Our Volunteers: Emma and Stephen Yates volunteering in Zambia

Cardinal Adam Memorial Hospital & Zambia Episcopal Conference

Located in Bauleni, a suburb of Zambia’s capital Lusaka, the Cardinal Adam Memorial Hospital (CAMH) is a brand new national referral hospital. CAMH is the second referral hospital in Zambia, after the University Teaching Hospital which cannot meet the huge demands placed upon it. CAMH will ensure greater numbers of people receive access to advanced health care.

As a new hospital, however, many of the staff are new to their roles. Providing training and establishing procedures in the early days is vital to ensuring that the hospital provides the level of care required. To this end, CAMH has placed a request with Palms Australia for a volunteer General Practitioner with general surgery skills to assist train between 5 and 10 junior medical practitioners.

The Zambia Episcopal Conference has also placed a request with Palms, for a Gender Justice Focus Person. This role was devised in recognition of the importance of considering gender equality in the Catholic Church’s programs across the country. The role includes responsibility for preparing standards and guidance on gender matters, training staff around gender issues, provide technical support on implementation and assist in evaluating gender outcomes in various programs.

Emma and Stephen Yates

To meet the requests of CAMH and ZEC, Palms Australia recruited Emma and Stephen Yates.

Emma has qualifications in law, arts, international development, dispute resolution and mediation and has worked as a solicitor, advocate and in dispute resolution for a number of Queensland organisations. These roles have involved working closely with women, including ensuring the rights of marginalised women, including Aboriginal and rural women and women with disabilities are realised. Emma has also worked in Cambodia on the Project against Domestic Violence.

Stephen is a Senior Medical Officer with Warwick Hospital in South Queensland. He has worked as a doctor for 25 years and has experience in obstetrics, anaesthetics and surgery and has acted as a mentor and supervisor for a number of staff and medical students. Stephen has also worked in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Emma and Stephen will bring with them, their two sons, Damon and Brendan. Palms Australia and our Zambian partners are excited at the potential provided by the skills these two volunteers will share with the people of Zambia.

We need your support to help support this important work. Please click donate and pledge a monthly contribution during their placement.

Deeper relationships

October 31, 2013

We have been developing deeper relationships with people at work and deeper insights into Zambian culture. For example, on the way back from South Luangwa, I was able to visit some of the people who are implementing the “Women in Governance” programme in Chipata Diocese. We visited a church where Literacy classes funded by the programme are run. In the classroom men and women were having lunch, all bar one of the men sitting on chairs and all of the women on the floor. It made me think – when my co-worker and I go on monitoring trips to the Dioceses, where should I/we sit? As visitors from head office we would be offered chairs. Would it be somehow prophetic for us, as women, to take the chairs with the men?

It is very important to the success of the programme that we find ways to effectively engage with and not alienate men. Talking this through we came to the conclusion that we would both choose to sit on the floor with the women. They are still the primary beneficiaries of the programme, and we need to earn their trust. It has been a reminder again for me that whilst so much about the way women are treated here disturbs me, my role is not to somehow ‘take up the cause’ on their behalf, but to come alongside them and to work with them for their own empowerment in the manner and timeframe best determined by them.

Volunteering can be exhausting, but being part of a pride can help.
Probably our biggest single challenge in recent times has been, along with the other houses in the compound, not having any running water in our house for the last 2 months. Every day we queue with our buckets, along with the maids or gardeners of other residences, at the one or two outside taps that mysteriously are still running. It has been really difficult at times. Carting all the water and having to move buckets of water around the house for everything, when we are so used to just opening a tap, has been very time-consuming. The boys fortunately have been on school holidays, and have been very helpful, though sometimes it gets them down too (“Mum, if this water doesn’t come back on soon I’m going back to Australia”). But in the midst of it all, Steve and I have started to see that it can be an exercise in solidarity, a very small experience for us of the reality of everyday life for the majority of Zambians.

Only 14.7% of Zambian households (39.7% of urban and 1.4% of rural households) have piped water into their own dwelling/yard/plot. Females over 15 years are the ones primarily responsible for collecting water in 66.1% of the 85.3% of households where water needs to be collected (Zambia Demographic and Health Survey 2007). So I have been in good company and have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time talking with some of the maids who have also taught me a bit more Nyanja. Steve and the boys collecting water have of course turned the usual gender division of labour on its head, with mixed responses from the locals!

Health and Gender

August 14, 2013

Stephen and Emma Yates explain what their roles as a volunteer doctor and gender justice advocate entail.

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Everybody benefits

February 18, 2013

It is always interesting to try to get people to see the value of engaging in international development in collaboration with an organisation like Palms, rather than by putting resources into a project or materials that they self-identify as good aid. I understand the distrust given the way some organisations appear to burn funds on […]

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Population: 11,862,740

Area: 752,618 sq. km.

Median Age: 16.5

Literacy: 80.6 %

Languages: Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, Chewa, Nsenga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Kaonde, Lala, Luvale, English, other

More on Zambia

To evangelise is to make the Kingdom of God present in our world … to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 176, 188)