Preparing our Christmas Gifts

Preparing our Christmas Gifts

by Roger O’Halloran

Last week I sent an email expressing my Christmas greetings that included a wish about supporting a placement in the Philippines that has the potential to provide health services in the remote areas of Cebu, outside Barili.  Thanks for the response.  The appeal will be ongoing in 2020 and beyond for any who can make a regular gift.

The nurse we engage will also assist health assessments in two orphanages in Cebu City that shelter neglected and abused children from the streets.  Christine and I heard two wonderful tunes from one 14 year old boy, who in just two years has turned from using nimble fingers to pick pockets, to being an accomplished pianist.  Among many, it was probably the highlight of my holiday.

Last week’s email also had a few verses attached about giving the gift of a qualified and experienced Australian such as the nurse to Cebu.  Just now we are preparing to wrap six such gifts to be sent on assignment in the New Year.  A slightly late Christmas present, but the wrapping is one of the important aspects of Palms work.

I am of course talking about Palms preparation of the people sent.  Our marketing platform informs all that we thoroughly prepare and support those we recruit for mutual development with their counterparts.  It’s not just marketing.   Palms comprehensive formation culminates in Palms eight day residential orientation program beginning this year on January 4th.

Palms preparation is one of the important distinctions between Palms and other sending and voluntourism agencies.  It is important because this work is not just about doing a job.  The word mutual gives it away. 

Our Orientation includes many practical sessions about health, language and mentoring, but what we really have to focus on is deprogramming, so that participants can shake off the shackles of our culture that delude us that we have it all.  Many come prepared to give, but few are ready to receive.

Research in 2013 outlined that the key to a successful expatriate placement is in ‘selecting expatriate managers with high emotional intelligence, providing extensive pre-departure cultural training that consists not only of cultural facts, but also interpersonal skills such as active listening, conflict management, and ethical reasoning, utilising sensitivity training techniques to better prepare managers for new situations’.  I suppose this refers to developing cultural competence, but we prefer to think of our cross-cultural preparation as developing cultural humility.

Understanding of Culture; Psychology; Development; Risk Management and Health are all improved by looking at them as threads to be woven together in the one garment of cultural humility.  We just have to stop thinking of ourselves as having most to offer because we live in a more materially advanced economy.  Yes, material goods can make life easier and is why we go prepared to share our skills.  I guess what I’m asking is that supporters help us to deliver a gift in the form of the people we send who will know that there is so much more to learn and bring back to us.

I wish the safest and best development for all our supporters and participants across Christmas and New Year.   I also ask if you are still short of a gift idea can you please help us wrap ours by making a small donation?  It only takes a small Click here.