Despite being the world’s second largest and second most populated continent, African news gains little traction in Australia. Occasionally stories break through, like the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian uprisings, or the hunt for Joseph Kony, but in most cases the stories told revolve around non-Africans.
Even we at Palms may be guilty of this occasionally, focussing necessarily on the contributions of our volunteers. Each field visit, though, provides the great privilege of meeting our partners and being reminded that our volunteers are only a tiny part of a long-term development story which is driven by Africans. It is a terrific reminder of what Palms Australia is all about – supporting local initiative.
Ofcolaco, South Africa
At Holy Family Care Centre in Ofcolaco, the OLSH sisters have established a home which provides safety for vulnerable children and opportunities to participate in education programs in the community and to prepare for life beyond the centre.
Our volunteers, Fran Hewitt and Carmel Lawry, have provided support and training to Gregory (teaching), Lily (creche), Olga and Sr Helena (health care) to build upon their existing skills. Fran and Carmel both pointed out that it was the dedication and skills of the local staff which kept the program going in the past and would continue it into the future.
As in many tourist destinations, my first impression of Arusha was of hotels, billboards, tour groups and hawkers, but for the people who live here it is home – a place to live, study, work and play. While staying for a lamentably short time, I was lucky enough to bypass the facade and meet some of the people working to make Arusha a better place for Arushans.
Br Nkwabi, the principal of Edmund Rice Sinon School, explained the school’s transition program to assist students with English language education. The benefits of this program, facilitated by Kathy Brick, Eddie and Paul, flow on to every student and teacher in the school, improving outcomes at all levels.
At Kesho Leo, Jenny Ferris introduced me to Regina, Lucy and William, whom she is assisting with their teaching practice. These two teachers and librarian, respectively, provide early education and after hours tutoring to the children living around Kesho Leo.
Over the last few years, it has been our pleasure to know Fr Andrew Mutubusi AJ, a Ugandan priest working in Sydney. It was great to meet his fellow AJ fathers and visit their schools in Arusha and Moshi. Their warm hospitality and commitment to education throughout East Africa looks to be the basis of a strong partnership in future.
Bushulo Health Centre employs over 25 local staff and provides health services to thousands of people around Awassa town. The staff I met, including doctors, administrators, nurses, phamarcists and handymen, were very happy to work with Claire Michalanney and Fulvio Fabreschi building capacity to deliver health care in Ethiopia.