Our Volunteers: Hila Sukkar volunteering in Solomon Islands

St Anne’s Rural Training Centre, Solomon Islands

Former Palms volunteer Patrick with Naka and their new solar panel.
Located in the Shortland Islands, near the border of PNG, St Anne’s RTC provides vocational training to young women. The government of the Solomon Islands has identified the education of women in rural areas to be a high priority.

With limited employment opportunities available, Rural Training Centres have been started across the Solomon Islands to provide useful skills in areas such as agriculture, trades, tourism, small business and manufacturing which students can use in the search for employment, but also to begin projects back home in their villages. English is the primary language of business in the Solomon Islands and although Pidgin is often used for communication, a working grasp of English is essential for any business – big or small.

Palms Australia received a request for a qualified English teacher to work at St Anne’s in Nila and with other communities in Wagina (another rural village) and Gizo (a provincial capital).

Hila Sukkar


Hila will work as a Teacher and Community Liaison Officer at St Anne’s Rural Training Centre. Her role will include teaching English to the students, developing local staff’s abilities to use creative teaching techniques including using Art and Drama. She will work to develop the English language skills of teachers and in turn provide greater self-esteem and confidence in their ability to teach in English.

Hila has previously worked at Holy Family Primary School, Granville and St Bernadette’s, Dundas Valley. She has a number of qualifications and experience in dramatic arts and has trained to teach students with a variety of special needs. Palms Australia and St Anne’s believe Hila is very well equipped for the task.

Palms’ Jubilee Year Launched in Mittagong

March 4, 2011

As part of Palms’ Jubilee launch, returnees were invited to share their memories of their time with Palms, including  what they believed was the most significant change from their experience. A few such insights are shared below:

“When I left at the end of 88, I left knowing that my small footprints had helped a number of people… Years later, one of the teachers who worked with me at the high school got a grant from AusAID to come and do a bachelor of education. In 2008, she got her PhD from Australian Catholic University.”

Sabina Van Rooy, teacher, Rabaul, 1985-88

“One of the things Roy [Boylan, PALMS’ founder,] used to say to us was that going away was really just preparing yourself for coming back… And that it was really important that the whole experience is not just when you’re away, but when you come back.”

Kristin Allen, teacher, Mt Hagen, 1977-1980

“I remember when I came back to Australia… I got these letters from my students in Zambia and they told me their exam results; and they were the best exam results they’d ever had at that school and I was just shocked. So, they turned me into a teacher…. and I’m still a teacher to this day.”

John Nicholls, teacher, Zambia 1987-88

“What Palms did for me at the age of 19 was show me that I wasn’t a spectator in the church. I could participate in the life of the church.”

John Griffiths, agriculturalist, Mendi 1976, Madang 1983,  Rabaul/Kundiawa 1988

“I suppose the life-changing experience was really a confirming of a gut feeling that my experience as a child and a young person wasn’t the only experience possible for me – especially as a white middle-class male. I’ve continued to work quite a lot with indigenous and African communities throughout Brisbane, both as a justice advocate, but more particularly as someone who does social documentary and publishing. So the stories of people who come from other cultures can get out there; can go online; can be shown in exhibitions… Because some of the stories of the suffering and injustice that continues because of our social structures, because of our purchasing, because of so much stuff we take for granted, needs to be addressed, needs to be out there in the public sphere.

The beauty of going to Kiunga for me was that it gave me a whole new tool to do the sort of stuff I believe in.”

Tony Robertson,  youth worker, Kiunga, 1989-1991

“As soon as I arrived, to be quite honest, I wanted to go home. Maybe because I was so young; maybe because it was the first time I’d ever left my house, my home, my family. The most life changing thing for me is that I’ve become very independent.”

Hila Sukkar, teacher, Solomon Islands 2006

“I went to New Guinea with the idea that I was going to save the world; and it turns out  I actually did.  Because Papua New Guineans helped me in terms of showing me what a really selfish hypocrite I was.  As a result of my experiences in PNG, and with the help of the Papua New Guinean people, I decided to save the world from myself.”

Eddie Leszczynski, builder, Wewak 1996-2003

New placements for 2007

March 23, 2007

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.

Click here to read the full article

Palms Poet – Little Children

September 23, 2006

A poem by Hila Sukkar, Palms volunteer in Gizo, Nila and Wagina, Solomon Islands

Click here to read the full article

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Solomon Islands

Population: 595,613

Area: 28,450 sq. km.

Median Age: 19.7

Literacy: 76.6 %

Languages: Solomon Pidgin, English, 120 indigenous languages

The UK established a protectorate over the Solomon Islands in the 1890s. Some of the bitterest fighting of World War II occurred on this archipelago. Self-government was achieved in 1976 and independence two years later. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime have undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, Prime Minister Sir Allen […]

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Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer. - Unknown