PALMS CommUnity Partnerships

In recent months Palms has engaged returned volunteers in a fundraising campaign, which has involved speaking in various communities. There have been some positive responses to this from returnees, parishes and schools, and a realisation that a more sustainable and educational strategy can develop to more effectively engage the Australian community with the development work of overseas communities who request Palms’ volunteers.

During Pentecost we will launch another strategy, Palms CommUnity Partnerships, which we foresee running alongside our speaking engagements, institutional support and fair trade projects as a means of supporting poverty reduction through skill transfer. While the creation of Palms CommUnity Partnerships will provide some financial security for Palms’ operations, it is much more than just a fundraising technique. It creates mutually beneficial connections between Australian and overseas communities.

Anyone can begin a CommUnity Partnership. All it takes is a small group of people interested in making a difference. Palms will align Australian communities with overseas communities through the placement of a volunteer. Through these relationships Australians will gain a real sense of development in the majority world and the knowledge that they are part of that process. Regular updates of the volunteer’s work, life, trials and successes will be provided and the “Food For Thought” included with each update will provide talking points for Australians to further develop their global understanding.

A Palms CommUnity Partnership can be adapted to suit an individual community style. A typical group might arrange to meet periodically to discuss issues of justice, peace, development, ecology, mission, etc. and work towards making a difference in the world starting in their local community. Activities can take on any number of forms, according to the interests of the members of the group (discussion groups, debates, public forums, raffles, fetes, market stalls, dinners, movie nights, trivia nights, basketball competitions, “Australian Idol” competitions, etc.).

We are, therefore, looking for people interested in starting or being part of a CommUnity Partnership. A group might begin with as few as one or two people. During Pentecost an Australia- wide campaign will be run to invite the wider community to join a group in their area. By this stage, each group will be aligned with a specific volunteer placement and information will be available on the overseas community.

Although the capabilities of one small group might seem limited, as part of a larger group committed to peaceful, sustainable development a great difference can be made. Consider also that 50 years ago Roy Boylan and a few friends founded the Paulian Association. Since that time PALMS has sent almost 1400 Australians to volunteer placements, Project Compassion was initiated to raise funds for Caritas (then Australian Catholic Relief) and numerous youth, family and community projects have been started.

Enclosed in this PALMS POST is a profile of an overseas community you can help provide with long-term skills development. To be part of a CommUnity Partnership, please return the reply slip on the following page to Palms Australia.

“I think I get more passionate and proud of PALMS every day. What you all do in the office and in the field is amazing!!!!!! I really appreciate the mission in regard to relationship building. Just lately I have met a lot of foreigners who come to Timor with lots of qualifications and expertise, make lots of changes, aggressively capacity build, etc. but don’t seem to focus their energies on relationship building. I think Mic and I are really lucky to be in a local organisation that was already set up and running before we came and we can build on the many strengths that are already established.

“After reading the (September) PALMS post in relation to building links with the community in Australia and overseas I was reminded about our time prior to coming to Timor. I think I can now fully appreciate the whole CommUnity idea. I keep thinking how much PALMS is ‘on the money’ with its whole philosophy and aims.”

Cheree Flanagan, Palms volunteer in Timor-Leste