As we enter into the festive period of giving and receiving, a new set of Palms’ development volunteers are preparing to give themselves to communities requesting their assistance. The volunteers’ gifts will be in the form of quiet peace-building work, involving an exchange of skills aimed at reducing poverty. They will receive the experience of another way of life through a deep sharing of our common humanity.
Communities come to Palms, seeking volunteer assistance to develop the skills of local individuals and help local organisations, to build capacity for sustainable development. Palms acts as a matchmaker by recruiting individuals with appropriate skills and preparing them to achieve effective development in a cross-cultural setting. Throughout the placement Palms’ program staff engage the Palms’ network to assist with monitoring and supporting the personal and professional relationship between host and volunteer.
If Palms were an employment agency in Australia the organisations seeking employees with specific skills would be our clients and pay good money for the service. However, this is not simply a market driven relationship between client and service-provider. It is more an exercise in our collective human development, and there is another beneficiary: Australian communities. Palms, then, is really the facilitator of a partnership for the exchange of gifts between Australian and overseas communities.
The opportunity that Australians have to earn income gives us the capacity to cover the costs of providing the gift of a volunteer. A host community returns their gift to the Australian community, through the volunteer. A volunteer’s host community might have less money, but many aspects of their way of life have much to offer sustainable human development in Australia. The volunteer opens our hands to the world of the host helping us to build what Palms calls CommUNITY Partnerships for mutual growth.
As we approach Christmas, help is needed to give volunteers to communities in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Kiribati and Uganda. In this issue of Palms Post you can read the stories of some of those we hope to place. Perhaps your Christmas Party this year could raise some funds to send one of these and in return Palms will ensure that you become a part of the rewarding, life giving CommUNITY Partnership. Quarterly reports of a volunteer over the evolving story of the partnership will enable you to follow the growth of your gift in the host community.
The cost of making the gift of a volunteer to one of these communities is just over $20,000 per annum or around $400 per week. It’s great value given the average volunteer at work in Australia is worth around $70,000 per annum. $20,000 enables the host community to receive a $70,000 gift. And of course the gifts made as a donation to Palms Australia are tax-deductible, thus also leveraging money from the government.
So, can funds be raised in your community (maybe at your Christmas Party, or in your church) to provide the gift of a volunteer for even just a few weeks? Palms can prepare and manage as many as you and your Australian community (school, church, workplace, club etc.) are able to give.
Use one brochure for the community group, or give one to each of your friends. And, if you want to receive updates, be sure to tick the box at the bottom of the brochure and enter the name of a volunteer from this issue of Palms Post or www.palms.org.au/volunteer/our-volunteers. Palms’ staff will see that you receive his or her reports and further connect you to the host community.
May the peace, hope and good will of Christmas be abundant in your family and community.