Solidarity Volunteering: Strong Relationships, Mutual Development

Into the Arms of Mary

Summit View

Many Palms volunteers find themselves living among deeply religious communities. Especially in countries with a traumatic history, we find our partners often witness to how a deep personal and communal faith sustained them through the most extreme difficulties. It is a great privilege to share in a community’s own religious expression and rituals, as volunteers […]

Privileged to Volunteer

Philip at Atabae Feature

Now gaining momentum in placement, Philip Cranley from Woodcroft SA looks back over his first six months as volunteer in Dili, Timor Leste- Volunteering is for young people or retirees, right? They are tradespeople, builders, doctors, nurses and teachers, right? So what do you do if you are none of these things but still want […]

Kurríkulu Foun, by Sam Haddin

Sam's classroom during a recent Palms Encounter by the Catholic Education Office

In Timor Leste, appreciation of education is almost universal. The population and government alike see education in all its forms as key to a brighter future. As often happens in a young nation and government emerging from a traumatic past, many systems are trialled and improved upon to find the best structure for the people’s […]

Timor Leste Visit, by Christine O’Halloran

Christine Field Trip sml

Palms Country Program Coodinator, Christine O’Halloran recently took a field trip, visiting our volunteers and partners in Timor Leste. For the volunteer, a visit by Palms staff is often a welcome change from feelings of isolation, however good their placement. These trips provide valuable support, but also produce just as valuable feedback from our volunteers and their […]

Building new pathways, by Dianne Woo

Heather in anguna cropped

Dianne Woo, 2 months into her placement at Atabae, pays a touching tribute to Heather Henderson who is now moving on from one Palms placement to another- It was an emotional farewell for Palms’ volunteer, Heather Henderson, when she attended the latest English language graduation ceremony in Atabae, East Timor. “Teacher Heather” has guided the […]

Reflecting on a Year in Dili, by Sam Haddin

Sam & Friends

First-time enquirers to Palms often feel a bit shocked when told our volunteer placements generally last two years. Some are dissuaded, but many will call again after considering the philosophy and effectiveness  of a long-term program. Sam  Haddin explains the importance of a far-sighted view and the crucial time forming relationships– For a little over a […]

Atabae – Ate logo i obrigadu barack


Atabae – Ate logo i obrigadu barack los husi hau nia laran  (Atabae –See you later and I truly thank you from my heart.) by Heather Henderson As I sit to write, I hear the melodious, harmonised voices of a group of young girls walking past my house on their way to somewhere. “Ba ne’be?” […]

Running Water

Water cropped

In urban Australia fresh water seems so abundant we use it to flush toilets.  It is easy to forget how precious water is in the majority world. In Maliana, Timor Leste, fresh drinking/cooking water is obtained in bottles or from natural springs, yet for other purposes any running water will do. Volunteer Paul Tan reflects […]

Patience and positive change in Balibo

Local students visiting Balibo CLC

Balibo Community Learning Centre (CLC) in Timor Leste is based around the Australia Flag House memorial to the Balibo Five. The Learning Centre provides several services to the local community, including computer training, mechanical workshops, English classes and mentoring of rural women’s cooperatives. Leanne Hayes from Brisbane has volunteered as Institutional Development Officer at Balibo […]

The Volunteer’s New Year

Volunteer Samantha Haddin opts to stay in Dili, Timor Leste, over the holidays, finding very different celebrations as well as time to reflect and plan ahead- I spent Christmas Day at a teacher’s home celebrating her daughter’s First Holy Communion which was lovely. If not for the First Communion, I don’t think much celebrating would […]

Returning to another Home

Palms volunteer Guida Cabrita writes of the excitement in returning home for Christmas, and finds the same excitement when heading back to her host community in Dili, Timor Leste- When most people think of Christmas, they think of spending time with their family. Family is really important in Timor Leste and the extended family is […]

Soccer in Atabae

Ian with Atabaqe Youth Soccer

With the recent Soccer World Cup we have seen again much debate on the relationship between sport, commercialism and mass media. Many of us would like to get back to basics and just enjoy play for its own sake! Ian Gray, at IT professional recently returned from Atabae, Timor Leste, gives his report of such […]

Realising the Dream in Atabae, Timor Leste

Following independence the people of Timor Leste quickly recognised that growth in education was key to the development of their communities and nation. Almost without exception, Timorese students express an insistent determination to learn and improve their English skills as an avenue to further education and employment. Heather Henderson, a teacher from Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, […]

Timor 12 months on – Heather Henderson

Almost 4 in 10 primary school students in Timor-Leste drop out before completing primary school and those in rural areas often find it difficult to reach a school (source: UNDP in Timor Leste). While there have been major improvements in the last decade, volunteers like Heather Henderson are still essential to assist the poorest of […]

The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. - Charles du Bois