by Robert Reynolds & Roger O’Halloran
It’s No Vacation Developing Vocational Education in Samoa
Since January 2018 Helen Colla of Surry Hills, Victoria has been working in Salelologa on the Samoan island of Savaii’, a place where one might more likely go for a vacation. She was recruited, prepared and sent to this exotic Polynesian island by Palms Australia. It is typical of how Palms responds to a local community request to assist a program that ultimately helps to combat poverty.
Helen has been sharing her expertise to help develop new vocational education opportunities with the team at Don Bosco College. As a professional she brings her experience in the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector to assist the college become an accredited provider, and has mentored and supported staff in the development and delivery of VET courses.
These are great outcomes. There are now 26 high school and mature-aged students enrolled in Certificate 1 Trades Foundation Skills, and Certificate 1 Hospitality. Being able to study close to home rather than have to travel to Samoa’s main island of Upolu is the difference between becoming qualified, or not.
The students’ enthusiasm has impressed Helen and she has extended her placement for another year in order to be involved in the delivery stage of the program. It is her aim to see that the training is repeatable and sustainable long after she has left. That will result in citizens of Savai’i having more skills and qualifications, better employment opportunities, increased incomes and a higher standard of living.
What Helen has achieved highlights the value of Palms commitment to support long-term placements. It is sustainable human development, unachievable in short-term voluntourist visits, which tend to be more about deriving profit for a tour company by making the traveller feel good; at least in the short-term. Most later realise that they were unqualified to do the work and possibly did so at the expense of a local who could have been trained for it.
“I did not choose Samoa, it chose me. And what an unexpected delight it has been. I’m happy and healthy here. It’s wonderful!”
Such fulfilment while living simply among the people is the typical response of those who undertake a Palms’ assignment. Palms Australia is a registered charity who will prepare you to ‘Reach Beyond’ in Africa, Asia or the Pacific, where many other Palms partner communities are requesting qualified and experienced Australians.
Your help to cover the placement costs for Helen as she takes on this important third year can be made by donation here.
To explore current opportunities with Palms click here. Or to inquire about emerging professional and trade opportunities call Christine on 02 9560 5333 or 0422 472 567.