Solidarity Volunteering: Strong Relationships, Mutual Development

More Growth in Bedois

After their positive experience hosting Palms volunteer teachers Guida and Sam in 2014-15, The Bedois community in Timor Leste keenly looked again to Palms when planning expansion of their Primary School programme and establishing a new Preschool. Old Palms stalwarts, the Cassidys, were just as keen to take up the invitation- Bedois Parish, Dili, Timor […]

Going Local

John Dorton has been in placement at Kiunga, Western Province PNG, for four months now. Yes, it does seem longer, as he’s becoming very much a local. Still no photos (understandable given the technical hitches) but John paints a vivid picture all the same- Kiunga is a sort of false urban setting. It hasn’t existed […]

Trust and Development

by Veronica Chong Now nine months in Atabae, Timor-Leste, where Veronica Chong is volunteer Community Development Officer, she sees the relationships formed as crucial to meaningful development in both communities and individuals, not least herself- It is the sense of social justice that motivates me in this journey. I am currently volunteering in Atabae in […]

Growing Confidence in Balibo

by Michele Rankin. Just in time for International Womens’ Day, Michele Rankin writes of busy Balibo where even traumatic memories inspire hope and positive action. And yes: Women are a driving force- My first year in Balibo has been full of adventure and happenings. Balibo is situated along the western border of Timor-Leste and although […]

Changing Expectations

John Dorton, a Melbournian originally from the US, arrives in Kiunga, PNG, where he is mentoring staff of the Diocese. In a new placement one must be adaptable to changing roles, and it seems John has already come to expect the unexpected-  Not surprisingly, what was originally envisaged as my job has morphed. Not a […]

Four Months In

by Clare Lourey, volunteer in Ofcolaco, South Africa- My name is Clare (or Khensani as the local staff and children now call me), I’m a primary school teacher from Sydney, Australia. Through Palms I am volunteering at Holy Family Care Centre, South Africa for twelve months. I’m currently four months into my placement and I […]

First Impressions Mukuru

by Bev Watkinson Bev, a ‘retiree’ from Brisbane, has already volunteered in China, Timor Leste and on the streets of New York; Now fulfilling a lifelong dream, she is volunteering at the Ruben Centre in Nairobi- It all started with an incredible yearning to live in Kenya….who knows maybe it was a childhood dream to […]

A Magical Time

by Helena Charlesworth Long-term volunteer at Sacred Heart High School in Tarawa, Kiribati, Helena tells of the moment her students discover new worlds -perhaps rediscovering a certain magic herself- The secondary college where I work has run a reading programme – Drop Everything And Read or DEAR – for some years now. I was given charge of […]

Hugs and Handshakes

Volunteers generally come to Palms with wide and diverse experience, before being immersed in entirely new cultures, where pre-conceptions quickly unravel. The exception to prove the rule though is Les Hartwig, who with his wife Norelle, has spent most of his life and career in Papua New Guinea. Now volunteering in Mt Hagen, he is […]

The Driving Force

by Heather Henderson Just over a year into her second Palms placement, Heather Henderson describes the things which drive and inspire her work: A very personal statement but one all volunteers can relate to- Throughout my life I always had a desire to travel the world and work in areas of need.  I have always […]

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

by Dianne Hanna Volunteer Dianne Hanna, from Sydney, reflects on just how different life is for her -but also what is most valued- a month after commencing her placement in Maliana, Timor Leste- Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or does it? Having spent over a month in East Timor I am asked, what do I miss […]

Reflections in order to look forward

by Heather Henderson I am almost 12 months into my placement here at Ruben School in Mukuru kwa Ruben. It has been an amazing journey of education for me and to my host community. This community continues to embrace my efforts to help and advise where and when I am asked. It is a mutual […]

Into the Arms of Mary

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

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 […]


There is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm.
There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them. - Teju Cole