An Update From the Executive Director, Roger O’Halloran
Have you shared your belief about Palms Australia’s Vision and Mission?
Palms simply does not have the funds to meet the demand we have for the qualified and experienced Australians we send as volunteers. The demand for Palms’ approach of skill development in a spirit of mutual assistance and solidarity is very popular with our global community partners. We prepare volunteers for this approach and (if we successfully deconstruct the unsustainable Western model of development enculturated into us since birth) most realise this gig is not about them saving the poor, but ultimately about working collaboratively towards sustainable ways to develop.
Those who have volunteered before know that the necessary ability to grace basic simplicity takes time. Understanding cultural differences also requires patience and persistence. The feedback is that Palms’ personal and professional support throughout the process integrates well with our thorough preparation. Palms engagement with partner communities to scope placements prepares the ground long before the volunteer arrives and assists communities to develop vital confidence that an assignment will identify and build on collective strengths.
So the Palms process works well in two key areas: overseas community engagement and volunteer preparation and support. However, there is a challenge that must be addressed by all members and supporters if we are to avoid it becoming a fatal flaw. If an excellent program is to continue we have no choice but to create opportunities for the broader Australian community to be inspired by our good news.
Those who know the effectiveness of Palms’ approach are due great thanks for responding again to our recent appeal. You clearly know that ongoing support to mobilise requested volunteers assists to both reduce poverty and to build the resilience of communities, allowing them to recover better after cyclones, floods, droughts, or other adverse conditions. You know that trade training; better health services; agricultural diversity; and stronger organisations give them the opportunity to be less dependent.
Recently I sent an email with a sample endorsement of Palms suggesting supporters share similar (and a self-addressed Palms donation envelope that was sent in the mail) with members of their Australian community (friends, family, workplace, church). Leaving envelopes in the staff room or church for others to collect probably won’t inspire support. Those doing the endorsement report that it required taking just a little social, work or rest time to share the reason for supporting Palms, but did not require the total abandonment of their work, children or elderly family members and it provided a positive engagement that can be too infrequent in our usual daily grind.
Perhaps it’s too soon to expect a flood of donation envelopes to be returned by new donors. Perhaps the distractions have been great and this small reminder will help if you have not yet shared the good news. It is just over a month or so before we move office and we may need to leave Glebe, so scheduling a couple of opportunities soon to introduce Palms and our pre-addressed donation envelope to one or seven others would make it easier to collect them from our Glebe PO Box.
More importantly it will mitigate the unexpected cost of moving and allow us to honour the commitments we made to our overseas community partners. It seems a little lame that we might otherwise have to tell them that the cost of our move means we can’t now send Dianne, Michele, George, Ken, Des, Mark, for two years because we can’t pay the living allowance? I know there are some big appeals on in Lent, but please, just a little time to tell a friend and send, or pass them a donation envelope is an effort that can generate longer term support as they come to know the inspiring Palms story through one of these or others still to be placed. If you need more envelopes we still have some 15,000 so please do ask.