Our Volunteers: Frances Scurfield volunteering in Papua New Guinea

Diocese of Kundiawa, Papua New Guinea

Frances Scurfield in Kundiawa
Kundiawa Diocese is centrally located on the main road in PNG between Goroka and Mt Hagen. It is relatively peaceful with few security risks. It is compact in size and, due to its elevation, has a cooler climate.

The Diocese’s mission includes education through 17 primary schools plus 8 secondary colleges; health care – it runs one hospital; justice, peace and development ministries; and extensive youth ministries.

Bishop Henk te Maarssen SVD, Bishop of the Diocese of Kundiawa, made a request to Palms Australia to provide a volunteer to work with and train two staff members at Kundiawa, one a local Religious Sister and the other a recent business studies graduate, as finance officers.



Frances Scurfield

Frances ScurfieldPalms has placed Frances Scurfield to work as a finance officer, training Kundiawa Diocese’s staff for two years.

A letter of recommendation for Frances states, “Frances has a terrific sense of humour, is energetic, passionate about matters of justice, is generous with her time and talents …”

Frances will train the staff of Kundiawa Diocese while working to efficiently manage the financial affairs of the diocese. Frances has worked in a variety of financial and administrative positions and has exercised a number of ministries in her parish. Palms and Kundiawa Diocese believes Frances is very well equipped for the task.

Opening our hands to the world

October 23, 2008

A retrospective

Peter De Haas at a Palms BBQ in 1990
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.

The 1990’s

South Africa

I have arrived safely here in Kimberely. The classrooms at St. Boniface’s, where I will be teaching, are in need of repair and a job on the floorboards (one could disappear down one of the holes in my classroom!). We are hoping to limit the size of classes to 18 so that we are able to give enough individual attention to the children so that they get into the multi-racial schools as soon as possible. In my case, the children have to pass an entrance exam to get into one of the local high schools. The students realise that education is going to be the key to improving their standard of living. Hopefully, through St Boniface’s school, some of the slower learners will be given an opportunity to succeed.
Kathy Brick, Kimberely, South Africa, May 1993

Rabaul’s Volcanic Eruptions

Palms volunteers Paul and Bridgett Barrett and their children, as well as Helena Charlesworth and Daphne White – living on Vunapope Mission – awoke on Monday morning, September 19 to the sight of two erupting volcanoes. Over the following weeks, two volcanoes devastated Rabaul. Paul, Helena and Daphne assisted in the hospital and school, where needed, in the emergency relief effort that continued around the clock.

Clare Seddon with her dancing teachers, Kiribati 1998
November 1994

Palms Review

What new directions do you think Palms might take? Founded in the ’60s, Palms had that era’s save the world attitude. Before that (and some still assume it is what we do) others were acting as if they had ‘ecclesial stability and maturity (which) entitles (one) to evangelise the pagan nations…(where)…such nations are viewed as passive recipients of the Christian message and passive consumers of European Christian culture’. This is the shadow of the past that any missionary organisation must face.

Over the next 12 months, the staff will guide a process of review. The intended process of review has been examined by others more experienced than ourselves. What is most clear is that we must let God speak to us through her people, all of them.
Roger O’Halloran, Palms Co-ordinator, Summer 1996


News from Kavieng

To the singing for Jubilee 2000, celebrating the Bishop and priests’ involvements in New Ireland over the last century. That was simply mind blowing. The Bishop was escorted into the ‘church’ by villagers who, I have since found out, practised for weeks before the singing: every night from about 10.30pm till maybe 1.00am. I tried to video the procession, but the tears were streaming down my face: I was so moved by what was happening. Bishop in full Bishop ‘uniform’, including hat, was dwarfed by a couple of the village people, with their traditional head-dress.
Suzanne Cullen, Papua New Guinea, Spring 2000

The Koch family in Fiji, 2003
Making the best of Malaria

Howdy folks,
I have an exciting instalment for you all. The most exciting part is that I’ve lived to tell it! Sounds good huh? Well on the night of the 20th of Sept. the Big ‘M’ finally got me! Yes, I was hit pretty hard with the dreaded malaria, but have pulled through to tell you the weird and ‘wonderful’ journey.

First, I have to mention that in all my 25 years of life I have never once vomited, and I was beginning to think it impossible, when the big M attacked and turned my world around! The night began with fever which I thought was just the flu, but when the blood test came back positive the following day, I knew I was in for an exciting ride.

I decided to take the Lariam tablets I had brought with me, but it was a bad decision as the side effects left much to be desired, and by the end of the night I think I had experienced every kind of human ailment that I have ever nursed. Now it was my turn to be the patient! I was privileged to be put on IV fluids, also a first for me.
Anna Hayek, Magale, Uganda, October 2004

Life in Mingende

Palms’ Orientation Course has proven to be a real practical strength along the way as I have been prepared for the changes which have taken place. I spent some time over Christmas at a Melanesian Course in Goroka and this has also enlightened my knowledge of this very different culture and people…

I see many problems in our area here in Simbu, where men have lost their traditional role of the warrior and the protector of the community and have not another proud role to step into. The cash economy is bypassing the traditional community and it is very sad. One result of this is the amount of drug abuse.

We are presently setting up the Simbu Rural Drug Rehabilitation Program in Mingende, which is being funded by Caritas Australia.
Frances Scurfield, Mingende, PNG, February, 2006

Fiona Cairns with two blind students, Goroka 2008
Wewak News

Well, Helen and I have been here for 6 months now and the time has really flown. No wonder volunteers are asked to come for two years; time just goes and everything takes time….

All the stories we heard about before we came away have proved to be false. Our experience has been one of meeting very friendly and helpful people. Complete strangers will offer advice or help, or they will just want to ask questions about you. At first, some can look fairly intimidating – particularly those with bright red mouths due to betel nut chewing – but even the toughest looking man has a soft and gentle voice, which can seem bizarre…

Very early on, we realised that big changes are just not going to happen in our time, so we set ourselves an easy one and a less obvious one.

The easy one was to re-establish the Disabled Sports Association and teach a group how to swim; and the less tangible one is to try and empower the locals to take more control of their services.
Gary and Helen Wolhuter, Wewak, PNG, February 2008

Papua New Guinea Field Trip

March 23, 2007

“It is sometimes difficult to imagine that much change can be made, but each Palms volunteer I visited was testament to the possibilities.”

Click here to read the full article

Frances Scurfield’s CommUNITY News no. 3

August 12, 2006

Many diocesan offices are still run by expats and some have been here for many years. The PALMS ideal of sharing skills and working for an interdependent lifestyle for all people, has been to the fore of my thinking in my time here

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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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