Our Volunteers: Daniel Gilfillan volunteering in Timor-Leste

Ermera Parish, Timor-Leste

Former Palms volunteer Annette Joyce conducts a check-up in Railako
Ermera district, located South-West of Dili in Timor-Leste, is home to almost 100,000 people. Since East Timor gained independence, the area has undergone some basic development with education, health, agriculture and community development being priority areas of concern.

Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Ermera provides a variety of services for the people of the district. In addition to being a central focus of the majority Catholic community, it provides schooling, health and other services and employment for many local people. Many development projects in the area are organised by parish employees.

The parish school provides education for pre-school through to high school students. There is a relationship with St Mark’s Dingley, an Australian school which Ermera parish hopes to develop further through the work of a volunteer. Fr Adrian Ola put in a request with Palms Australia for an Education, Administration and Community Worker to train local teachers and staff in computer skills, administration, finance and community development.

Daniel Gilfillan

danielDaniel will be teaching computer skills to students and staff of the local school. He will also work to develop the relationship between the Ermera school and St Mark’s school in Australia. He will assist in training the parish secretary in administrative and financial duties and building networks to form working relationships for the parish. Daniel will assist in identifying the needs of the community and initiating projects such as family support groups.

Daniel has previously volunteered for Palms Australia, the Rural Fire Service, Youth Challenge Australia and Austcare. He has worked as an engineer and in management positions. He is also a member of the Australian Army Reserve and has completed a Masters degree in Social Change and Development. Daniel also has a working knowledge of the Indonesian language. Palms and Ermera parish believe Daniel is very well equipped for the task.

Social Capital: Kathy, Peter and Angela

December 3, 2010

Kathy Brick

When Kathy Brick is not talking about her beloved Collingwood Magpies, she can be quite inspiring. Kathy has volunteered twice with Palms, in Samoa (87-88) and South Africa (93-94), and independently on Bathurst Island.

Deon Goosen, Kathy Brick and Peter Fletcher at the 1993 Orientation Course
For the last ten years, Kathy has served as Palms’ State Representative in Melbourne. She has helped organise numerous Information Sessions and Focus Workshops over this time; she has interviewed new applicants, providing useful feedback and guidance to program staff to assist in making placements and providing support; and she has represented Palms at events such as the recent celebrations for Mary Mackillop’s Canonisation. Despite protestations that the details of her volunteer experiences are fading from memory, Kathy is always willing to share her stories and advice with new applicants and people discerning their own mission.

Kathy also organises regular dinners for Palms’ returnees in Melbourne. I’m sure she’d point out that she also enjoys the dinners but certainly all the returnees also appreciate the collegiality of the events and are grateful for Kathy’s efforts. In the last issue, you may have read an excerpt from Kathy’s report from Tanzania. We are incredibly grateful that Kathy was willing to use her own holiday as a Field Visit for Palms. It always helps to get a fresh perspective of various projects, but it also helps Palms avoid the costs of sending a paid staff member.

Peter and Angela De Haas

If the recent federal election taught us anything, it was that there is something known as the North Queensland paradigm. Perhaps this is the reason that, in addition to our Brisbane based state representative, Tony Robertson, we also have Peter and Angela De Haas voluntarily representing Palms in Cairns diocese. Like Kathy, Peter and Angela willingly and generously give their time to conduct interviews.

Anyone who heard Peter speak at the AGM in 2008 will know they have contributed much more. Peter and Angela helped establish Friends and Partners of East Timor (FPET) in Brisbane. FPET’s ongoing friendship with Atabae parish in Timor-Leste has assisted development in Atabae, including through the support of Palms Volunteers in health and community development (Nick and Jane Eager and Margaret and David Hall), but has also greatly enriched the Brisbane parishes of FPET.

Peter with Fr Sipri and Fr Estanis
Peter also established Connect East Timor, a village radio project drawing upon his telecommunications experience, which has provided affordable communications in the sub-districts of Atabae, Balibo and Lacluta and in the capital of Dili. Maternal health and emergency health, peace-building and education are among some of the positive results reported at connecteasttimor.com. The project has been endorsed by President Ramos-Horta who envisaged it being extended to all sub-districts of the country.

In 2007, Peter joined with his friends from RMC Duntroon to found the Podmore Foundation. In its short life, Podmore has already supported a number of projects in Timor-Leste, including Palms Volunteers at Ahisaun Foundation (Daniel Gilfillan, Lukas Rajnoch and Kristina Gunawan), development of facilities and programs at Ahisaun and a “reverse immersion” which saw Angelino Benevides spend three months with Palms in Sydney.

While perhaps not as famous as Bob Katter, with all they do for Palms it’s only fair to consider the De Haas family Palms’ “force from the North”.

Staff Movements

March 11, 2010

It is an interesting time at Palms at the moment, with new staff to welcome and departing staff to farewell.

Click here to read the full article

Continuing a Longitudinal relationship with Ahisaun (new placements)

December 11, 2009

Beyond the volunteer, Palms as an organisation believes very strongly in maintaining strong and healthy relationships with our partners, those communities and organisations who host Palms volunteers. Just one of these many “organisational” relationships has been the one with the Ahisaun Disabilities Foundation, in Dili, East Timor.

Click here to read the full article

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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

Why you do speak so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying. - Bruno Hagspiel