Our Volunteers: Gary & Helen Wolhuter volunteering in Papua New Guinea

Callan Services for Disabled Persons, Papua New Guinea

Callan Services sign in Kundiawa, PNG
In many parts of the majority world, people with disabilities have little or no access to basic services which would enable them to improve their way of life. Ironically, the number of people with disabilities in countries such as PNG is disproportionately high due to issues of nutrition, malaria, basic hygiene, HIV/AIDS, violence and lack of early intervention. The rugged geography, traditional spiritual beliefs and many languages exacerbate the difficulty of providing necessary services, training and resources.

Callan Services for Persons with a Disability is a Papua New Guinean NGO founded by the Christian Brothers in 1991. Originally based in the town of Wewak, there are now nine Callan centres around the country helping people with disabilities.

Callan Services trains people all around the country in areas such as disabilities, community-based rehabilitation, eye and ear health and special education. They have numerous resource centres and clinics which provide physical, eye and ear care.

Gary & Helen Wolhuter

wolhutersPalms will place Helen and Gary Wolhuter to work for Callan Services for Disabled Persons for two years.

Helen brings with her over twelve years of experience as a physiotherapist. She has training in all aspects of physiotherapy including sports medicine, aged care, rehabilitation, women’s health and musculoskeletal care. Helen’s role will include extending physiotherapy beyond the main centre of Wewak and also in training local staff in Community Based Rehabilitation.

Gary has worked since 1997 providing therapeutic massage, pilates and personal training. He has previously worked in the construction industry where he developed administrative and management skills. As Logistics Manager he will provide training local staff in finance matters, specifically in project funding. He will assist in the coordination of some building projects.

Together they will contribute to reducing poverty in Papua New Guinea, by increasing services available to people with disabilities, reducing stigmas and misunderstandings associated with disabilities and training local staff to continue the work after they return home.


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.

Papua New Guinea Field Trip

October 23, 2008

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

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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There is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm.
There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them. - Teju Cole