Our Volunteers: Fiona Cairns volunteering in Papua New Guinea

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Mt Sion Centre for the Blind, Papua New Guinea

Callan Services sign in Kundiawa, PNG
Callan Services is a Catholic organisation working with people with disabilities in Papua New Guinea.

The World Bank estimates that 20% of the world’s poorest are disabled. According to the WHO, approximately 70% of blindness and nearly 50% of hearing impairment in children in the Majority World is either preventable or treatable.

Brother Graham Leach, CFC, placed a request with Palms Australia to provide a volunteer to work with and train Callan staff in business practices, relationship building and rehabilitation counselling as well as assisting in the development of “Deaf Units” to better assist the hearing impaired children in regional areas of Papua New Guinea.

Fiona Cairns

fionaFiona will work with staff in a variety of Callan Services’ projects. Her primary role will be in Goroka assisting staff to adopt efficient business practices. She will also in-service, train and tutor staff in Highlands centres such as Mingende, Banz, Mt Hagen, Mendi and Kiunga. She will assist in the establishment of Deaf Units and compiling a register of deaf children in these regional areas.

Fiona has previously worked as a Rehabilitation Counsellor for a Occupational Rehabilitation provider and a Training Development Officer for a Government-funded disability service. Palms Australia and Callan Services believe Fiona is very well equipped for the task.

Staff, Interns and Volunteers

March 4, 2011

Marie Gilbert, Fiona Cairns and Enora Brunet
As Palms Australia begins its jubilee year, we welcome two new staff members to our ranks.

Marie Gilbert has filled the new role of Recruitment, Events and Media Officer.  Marie has twice volunteered with Palms, in Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.  Her recent studies in media and communication is already proving useful as she re-engages Palms’ contacts to assist with recruitment.

Fiona Cairns is Palms’ new Country Program Officer.  Fiona volunteered in Papua New Guinea for Mt Sion Centre for the Blind and Optical Workshop.  Fiona brings experience in business, administration and counselling to Palms two days per week.

Fiona and Marie will focus initially on meeting our target of deploying 20 more volunteers immediately following our July Orientation Course.  Following the initial recruitment period, their skills will be turned towards a variety of areas including publicity, Jubilee and CommUNITY events and resourcing volunteers and partners in the field.

Our recent Orientation Course was a tremendous success and this was in large part because of the hard work of Celine Passot. Celine has recently completed a 6-month internship with Palms, as part of our partnership with L’Ecole de Commerce de La Rochelle. Celine has returned to France to complete her studies and we wish her well.

Just as Celine has finished though, we are grateful for our new intern, Enora Brunet, who will be with us for the next five months.  Enora will provide and develop her administrative support and marketing skills and we hope she learns much from the experience and enjoys her time in Australia.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of Lyn Byatt, who has been volunteering in our office one day per week.  Lyn’s talent and flexibility are proving very useful in a wide variety of tasks, from updating our educational materials to improving our office systems. As we have mentioned in our Social Capital series over the last year, it is contributions such as Lyn’s which allow Palms to ensure each donated dollar is well spent.


Papua New Guinea Field Trip

October 23, 2008

Des Hansen with student at Sacred Heart College, Tapini in his previous placement

Just as Australia is more than just the Opera House, cricketers, kangaroos and beer, there is so much more to our northern neighbour than popular images give credit to.

Click here to read the full article

Opening our hands to the world

Fiona Cairns with two blind students, Goroka 2008

In the last edition of Palms Post, as part of our celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of the Paulian Association, we reflected upon the memories and achievements of Palms volunteers and staff from the 1960s, 70’s and 80’s. In this edition, we move into the 1990’s and the first decade of the new millennium.

Click here to read the full article

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Papua New Guinea

PNG Flag

Population: 7,656,959

Area: 462,840 sq. km.

Median Age: 21.5

Literacy: 57.3 %

Languages: Tok Pisin (New Guinea Pidgin), English, Motu, c.820 indigenous languages

The terrain of Papua New Guinea varies from its rugged mountainous spine to its beautiful beaches to its volcanic islands to one of the world’s largest swamps and the large river systems of the Sepik and Fly rivers. These geographical differences have created a unique country with many diverse cultures. The ties within a family […]

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