Our Volunteers: Marietje Stuckey volunteering in Kiribati

St Joseph’s College, Kiribati

Two I-Kiribati girls in traditional dancing costumes

St Joseph’s College is a school of almost 400 students located at Tabwiroa on the atoll of Abaiang in the Republic of Kiribati. The school offers training for students in traditional academic subjects as well as agriculture, music, home science and computer skills. Though many students would like to continue to the University of the South Pacific, most will not progress beyond high school.

Students travel from many of Kiribati’s 33 atolls to attend St Joseph’s, with a large number boarding in dormitories. The limited agriculture possible on coral islands, combined with a growing population, means the only alternatives to a “fish and rice” diet are expensive, imported, and often heavily-processed foods.

Other health issues include unsanitary, polluted lagoons and a growing risk of HIV/AIDS which seems to have been introduced by a global commercial fishing industry.

St Joseph’s College aims to provide care for their students’ and staff’s health as well as education about nutrition, hygiene and prevention of disease. To this end, they have requested a qualified nurse to assist in caring for the students and passing on her skills to local staff.

Marietje Stuckey

Marietje StuckeyMarietje Stuckey, from Heidelberg in Melbourne, will work as school nurse at St Joseph’s College taking responsibility for health services at the school and passing on her skills.

Marietje will provide basic care and medication for students and staff and will establish systems for the ongoing treatment of future students, including ordering medication and making referrals to the Central Hospital.

Marietje is an enrolled nurse with training in a variety of therapies including myotherapy, remedial massage and hypno-birthing. She also has experience in counselling, medication administration and workplace training. Palms Australia and St Joseph’s believe she is well-equipped for the job.


June 23, 2009

Participants at Palms' Re-entry Weekend
During Palms’ Re-entry Weekend, 22nd — 24th May at The Hermitage Mittagong, one of the highlights is the opportunity for returned volunteers to share their stories with people with similar experiences.

One story this year especially highlighted the importance of a Community Development approach — that is, one which is driven by local initiative as much as possible.

“I’d been in placement for just under a year when I was asked to take some visiting Australians up to see a gravity fed water supply system that was not functioning.”

“They identified what they thought were the problems (some holes in the pipes), and promised to return in six months to patch the holes.”

“I found out later that they were totally inexperienced in working with gravity fed systems and didn’t understand the concepts, and that it was going to cost about $13,000 to send them up. I felt I had to challenge this approach.”

“I was able to convince the Australian partner organisation that a local Timorese company, with the appropriate expertise, could be employed without spending so much on flights.”

“We also employed a Timorese NGO (non-government organisation) to manage community expectations and understanding of the project and to provide education about the appropriate use of the system.”

“Doing it this way reduced the cost significantly. The skills of the local experts were respected and used. The project demonstrated the local capacity to solve local problems. Overall, the project this way has a good chance of being sustainable. My opinion is that sending Australian plumbers up to fix the system, at best, would have achieved nothing.”

Thank you to all the returnees for sharing their stories and to Sr Marlene Hixon, who once again facilitated the process.

Kiribati Field Trip

October 23, 2008

Overall, it was wonderful to see the great work being done by all our current Palms volunteers in Kiribati.

Click here to read the full article

Marietje Stuckey’s CommUNITY News no. 1

October 1, 2008

I have found that teaching the pre-school children these things, especially hand washing, is something that they enjoy.

Click here to read the full article

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Population: 105,088

Area: 811 sq. km.

Median Age: 20.6

Literacy: 94 %

Languages: I-Kiribati, English

The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. The country’s 33 atolls are scattered over 3,500,000 square kilometres. The isolation of Kiribati has led to a unique culture, rich in singing and dancing. Family and community are central to this traditional fishing society, but life does not always match […]

More on Kiribati

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