Our Volunteers: Davina Wiltshire volunteering in Tanzania

Edmund Rice Sinon School, Tanzania

Palms volunteer Helena Charlesworth at Edmund Rice Sinon School
Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School is more than a school. It is a concept that is grounded in universal values and human aspirations.

The initiative for a secondary school came from the village leaders as early as 1984. In March 1988 the school began in some existing rooms of the primary school. The school is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha. The funding of the building largely came from the Congregation of Christian Brothers. At present the managers of the school are from Australia and New Zealand. In 2004 the school had an enrolment of over 700 students.

The school is located five kilometers from Arusha town centre, in north-eastern Tanzania. The Sinon Secondary School has over 40 staff but each year they rely on two volunteers whose first language is English, to conduct a Special Transition/English Program for new students into the school. This program runs for 9 weeks and it is conducted 4 times, so by the end of the year all two hundred new students have done it. The needs for this program stem from the system where all primary education is conducted in Kiswahili and Secondary education is in English. There is a real need to get the students into a program that can help them make this huge step.

Davina Wiltshire

davinaDavina is a qualified primary teacher from Perth, WA. Davina’s position will include building self-esteem, developing confidence and other social/educational skills alongside the English that is taught. Using creative teaching techniques, Davina will challenge students to start thinking and believe in themselves. Palms works for sustainable and interdependent development by working alongside local workers and sharing ideas and techniques. Working side-by-side rather than a “chalk and talk” approach can often be a more effective way of passing on skills.

A letter of recommendation for Davina stated, “I admire her compassionate and caring attitude towards others and her ability to empathise . She is a resilient person with good character and sound values.”

New placements for 2007

March 23, 2007

… and some recent returnees

Listed below are five of the confirmed placements for the coming year. We are seeking CommUnity Partners for these and several others which are currently being finalised. Why not choose a placement and host your own fundraising event? We can help, just contact Palms on (02) 9642 0558 or online

Tunaniya Open Learning Centre
Bougainville, PNG
2 years

Tunaniya Open Learning Centre is a new education project run by Sam and Josephine Kauona aimed at encouraging a culture of life-long learning in Bougainville. The centre will offer a variety of short courses for local people in areas such as literacy, health, computing, trades and project management. They requested a skilled administrator and educator from Palms to assist in making this worthwhile project viable.

Solomon Havini, an administration officer from TNQ-TAFE, will work with Sam and Josie to develop programs and administration processes and train participants in IT.
Fundraising target $13,250

Logistics Manager & Field Physiotherapist
Callan National Unit (CNU)
Wewak, PNG
2 years

The Logistics Manager is a new position aimed to assist the Special Education Resource Centre (SERC) in Wewak to strengthen its operational capacity at the time of development and growth. While the job description involves some hands-on management, the over-riding logistic is empowering and enskilling current national employees and employing and training additional national staff as required.

The CNU Field Physiotherapist is needed to make physiotherapy accessible to the area beyond the main town, particularly in rural situations. While hands-on services are important and helpful for rural clients, who have little in terms of quality services, the more significant activity and duty will be the passing on of knowledge and skills in Community Based Rehabilitation at the family, community and rural institutional level so that access and availability to services are maximised.

Gary and Helen Wolhuter will spend two years with Callan National Unit developing skills of staff and local communities in administration and physiotherapy.
Fundraising target $13,250 each

Special Education Teacher & English Teacher
St Joseph’s College
Tabwiroa, Abaiang, Kiribati
1 year

A recent study into education in Kiribati, commissioned by Palms and carried out by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, identified a lack of confidence in English amongst teachers and students as a major reason for poor results and low numbers of tertiary entrants in Kiribati. The students of St Joseph’s college are disadvantaged even by Kiribati standards by their remote location.

By teaching English to the students and mentoring the teachers of Tabwiroa, Maryke and Bernard Dobe will contribute to increased opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged students of the Pacific.
Fundraising target $8,927 each


As we prepare to send more volunteers this year, we must also acknowledge the good work of those who returned in 2006

Solomon Islands – Patrick Campbell and Hila Sukkar
East Timor – Greg Bourne, Cheree and Michael Flanagan
Kiribati – Jenni Murphy, Sandra Power
Tanzania – Davina Wiltshire, Helena Charlesworth
Papua New Guinea – Frances Scurfield
Uganda – Monica O’Kane
Swaziland – Phillip and Elaine Dicalfas-Hall

Thank you for your commitment to your communities and Palms’ mission.
We hope that you are able to remain involved in our work

Hope Through Education

We are amazed at the indomitable spirit of our students and the people in the local area, and their resilience in adversity. One of our students, coming to our small 2-bedroom home on the school property, remarked, “What a big house! Don’t you get lonely here?”

Click here to read the full article

Davina Wiltshire’s CommUNITY News no. 1

May 11, 2006

Teaching at Edmund Rice and now at Engosengiu has taught me so much about myself and about my teaching skills. The students here have reminded me why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.

Click here to read the full article

Donate Online

Donating online offers you a completely secure and easy way to support our work.

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

Make a recurring donation

Amount: $
Tax Deductible?

Make a one-off donation

Amount: $
Tax Deductible?

About your donation

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 Davina Wiltshire'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.

Donate by Post/Fax

You can download and print a donation form and return it to us by post/fax with your cheque, money order or credit card details.

Donate by Phone

Or call us on (02) 9560 5333 to make a donation by phone. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR WORK!


Population: 40,213,160

Area: 945,087 sq. km.

Median Age: 17.8

Literacy: 69.4 %

Languages: Kiswahili, Kiunguja, English, Arabic, many local languages

Tanzania was formed when newly independent Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged in 1964. It is home to Africa‚Äôs tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, largest lake, Lake Victoria (which it shares with Uganda and Kenya), and deepest lake, Lake Taganyika. It also hosts the famous Serengeti National Park. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. […]

More on Tanzania

What a terrible thing, to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled,
with good connections politically, economically, socially, lacking nothing, having everything. - Oscar Romero