Our Volunteers: Anne Chapman volunteering in Timor-Leste

Atabae Parish/FPET, Timor-Leste

President Ramos Horta tests a Connect East Timor radio
Located near the border of West Timor, in the Bobonaro district of East Timor, Atabae was one of many areas that felt the brunt of the 1999 destruction.

In the years since Timorese independence was granted, the Atabae community has made slow progress in its development. Problems still exist with the health and education systems. Agriculture and infrastructure projects are working to increase the quality of life.

Atabae parish has an existing relationship with Friends and Partners with East Timor (FPET), an Australian friendship group based in Brisbane. They have identified a number of educational opportunities which if developed can both enhance the relationship, and also contributed to sustainable development outcomes for their community.

Fr Siprianus Kakut, on behalf of the Atabae community, placed a request with Palms Australia to provide a Community Education Coordinator to work with the people of Atabae, developing English language, computer, literacy and numeracy classes for the people of the area.

Anne Chapman

Palms Australia recruited Anne Chapman to fill the request of the Atabae community.

Anne Chapman has over 30 years experience as a teacher. She has qualifications in Reading Recovery and Special Education and experience in literacy programs and programs for students with learning difficulties.  Anne has also previously taught English to asylum seekers in Australia voluntarily, working with individuals from South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Pacific.

Anne’s expertise will serve her well as she works with Atabae community, building educational opportunities to meet their specific priorities.  To assist Palms Australia with this placement, please use the donation form on the right of this page.

Passing the torch

February 18, 2013

Anne Chapman and Heather Henderson at Palms' Orientation Course in January 2013.The hardest part of many volunteer placements is the finish. Despite the excitement of returning home to family and friends, saying goodbye to the people who have welcomed you into their community for two years can be very difficult.

Volunteers often add pressure by attempting to achieve as much as possible for their hosts before finally departing. Some are tempted to extend their placements, even indefinitely if they are unsure of the extent to which their work is sustainable.

Palms’ focus is always on enhancing sustainability and for this reason we encourage volunteers to consider localisation of skills and responsibilities throughout their placements, to establish an exit plan with their counterparts for the final six months and to respect the capacity of their counterparts, remembering that the community’s strength and resilience, which existed before the placement, remains the key to their ongoing development.

Anne Chapman is one volunteer who has taken these lessons to heart. It did not take her long to recognise the capacity of John, Afon, Maria and Abel and to begin mentoring them as teaching assistants.

Together Anne and her assistants have worked with over 200 students and 110 adults, implementing 300 days of English classes per year. As a result, more than thirty students can speak confidently in English on a variety of topics; ten students are capable of translating oral speeches; thirty students have received scholarships for further study in Dili; female students are more assertive and confident in their participation; and two of the teaching assistants now have paid employment.

Anne’s tremendous impact is beyond doubt.

Of course, Atabae’s education programs still have room to grow, but it is a mark of terrific progress that the community now have confidence in John, Maria, Afon and Abel to lead the way. This increased confidence is evident in their most recent request to Palms Australia.

No longer is the priority receiving a volunteer to focus on classroom teaching. Now, Atabae’s teaching assistants have asked for a teacher to focus on enhancing their skills in program planning, delivery, assessment and evaluation. New objectives include more student centred learning and a greater proportion of female students.

It is incredibly encouraging to see a community like Atabae empowered through their relationships. For this reason, Palms Australia agreed to again find a volunteer to meet their request.

Heather Henderson, from Brisbane, has answered the call. Her 17 years experience as an educator and her willingness to engage in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities will be a great asset to Atabae.

While it may take some time for Heather to adjust to her new surroundings, we know that Atabae will welcome her and assist in her transition, so that together they can work together to continue building their educational capacity.

Volunteers speak from Timor-Leste

September 20, 2012

In our latest Youtube video, three Palms volunteers speak about why volunteering is important and why people should volunteer with Palms Australia.

Click here to read the full article

A Grassroots Approach to Development

August 10, 2012

Palms Australia continues to receive requests for volunteers from grass roots communities and organisations to assist build capacities across the health, education and agricultural sectors.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Anne Chapman's placement has completed, but you can still help us provide volunteers to many other communities by using the form below.

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Recurring donations will be deducted on a regular basis, until Palms Australia or Paypal is notified to stop. Upon clicking "Donate", you will be forwarded to an external site, hosted by Paypal, to securely transmit your credit card or paypal account details. Please check the form on the next page to confirm the transaction details are correct. In this instance, Palms Australia does not handle your credit card details but will receive notification of your contact details.

As Anne Chapman's volunteer placement has ended, your donation will be placed towards the costs of sending and supporting other Palms volunteers to exchange skills with our partner communities. For more information contact Palms Australia.

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Population: 1,292,755

Area: 15,007 sq. km.

Median Age: 21.5

Literacy: 58.6 %

Languages: Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian, about 16 indigenous languages

A brief history of independence. mid 1500s – Timor colonised by Portugal 1859 – Portugal cedes West Timor to the Dutch 1942-1945 – Japan occupies East Timor 28 November 1975 – East Timor declared independent from Portugal 7 December 1975 – invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It is estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 were killed […]

More on Timor-Leste

Friendships grow between people of different backgrounds and cultures because they meet as persons, not because they share a common heritage.
Such friendships grow because we all belong to the largest group of all, the human race. - Jean Vanier