Our Volunteers: Theresa Murphy volunteering in Kiribati

St Domenic’s Pre-school, Kiribati

Two I-Kiribati girls in traditional dancing costumes
Education is at the heart of reducing poverty.

One of the UN’s Milennium Development Goals was to ensure that by 2015 all children would receive a full primary education.

More educated populations are more likely to achieve health and gender equity goals. Education can help generate incomes, contributing to reducing extreme poverty and better manage the environment.

In Kiribati, however, many students are not able to complete their schooling. Other activities compete for students’ attention, and they experience difficulties in adjusting to formal education structures.

Early childhood education means students are given firm foundations for later primary and secondary education.

St Domenic’s pre-school is relatively new in its establishment and is considered to be still in developmental stage.
Palms Australia received a request for an experienced and qualified person for the role of Senior Assistant to the Director of a St Domenic’s Pre-School.

Theresa Murphy


Palms Australia will send Theresa Murphy from Brisbane to share her skills with local staff of the Pre-School. This will better equip and give confidence to the local staff to continue building the foundations of a just and sustainable community in Kiribati.

Theresa has previously worked as a child care supervisor both supervising children as well as training staff.

Over many years Theresa has been deeply involved in her community in Brisbane, working voluntarily with the youth as well as with the homeless; she is also part of many other social justice and community initiatives in and around Brisbane.

Amongst the many wonderful things said about Theresa, is the observation that her character “resonates” with the people, and that she “is well loved and embraced” by those who know her.

Kiribati: Field Trip Report

September 20, 2010

By Christine O’Halloran

“…I wake up to the sounds of crashing waves, roosters crowing, a baby cries, the pigs are rummaging for food, the church bell rings, and the geckos call – I am in Kiribati!”

An island nation that has become known more recently, through the climate change debate.

Principal, Mrs Zeta Teata, with Helena Charlesworth
Palms Australia has three volunteers currently working in Kiribati.  Theresa Murphy, at St Dominic’s Pre-School/Child-Care Centre ( Sacred Heart Parish, Teaoraereke), Marlene Rasmussen at the Diocese of Tarawa & Nauru office (Teaoraereke), and Helena Charlesworth at Sacred Heart High School (Bikenibeu).

Theresa has been in Kiribati for 12 months and during that time she has been engaged in assisting the I-Kiribati teachers with running programs for the pre-school children and helping with the development of the recently opened child-care centre.

The second year of Theresa’s placement will be spent assisting the pre-school teachers and parents in developing new policies for St Dominic’s as well as developing resources for the children.

Marlene has thoroughly embraced her training role in the Diocesan office (Tarawa & Nauru).  The Administration Office was a buzz with activity, as visiting outer island Priests drop in to discuss their parish finances with the Diocesan staff, during their weeklong retreat.

Marlene has been assisting to build the capacity of the Diocesan office by working with staff to streamline some of the administrative and financial procedures, to further develop new skills and introduce some new practices.

Helena is in her fourth year with Sacred Heart High School.  This year Helena has been teaching English to Forms 4 and 5 and Religious Education to Form 6.  As National examinations are in English, there is a great need for the students to be proficient in English.

Theresa Murphy joins an I-Kiribati dance

The length of time that Helena has been in Kiribati working with I-Kiribati students in class and at an individual level has provided her with much insight into the many challenges that students face from day to day.

Visiting Kiribati was an enjoyable experience, I was encouraged by the positive feedback from our partners about the worthwhile contribution that Palms volunteers have made in the past and continue to make now through the training and mentoring that they provide both to the staff they are working with, and to the students they are teaching.

I thank our partners, Bishop Paul Mea (Bishop of Tarawa & Nauru), Sr Tiura Kaiuea (Director of Catholic Education Office), Mrs Zita Teata (Principal of Sacred Heart High School, Bikenibeu), Fr Michael Mackenzie (Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Parish, Teaoraereke) and the OLSH Sisters (Teaoraereke) for their ongoing support of Palms volunteers as they adjust to a new culture and workplace.

Thanks also to our Kiribati Palms volunteers who work tirelessly and with such commitment.  It was joy to spend time with you all, and visit your workplaces and homes.

Letter from Tarawa, Kiribati

March 11, 2010

Wow! It’s hard to believe I have been here for 7 months. I have been met with highs and lows that are to be expected with living in a different culture and I am happy to report that it is mostly highs.

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

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. - Arundhati Roy