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February - May


Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Magazine


Anthony Rologas


AYAD | Melanie Kay Country | Philippines Assignment | Community Development Officer Host Organisation | Department of Education (DepEd) |

Images: Left: Dolly on the road during house visits Right: Melanie during a session at the Induction Training Far Right: Dolly with Marilou, a local mother of two and ALS student

4 verybody in Tigaon knows Dolly Pempena. We joke that

Dolly is the face of ALS in Tigaon, located in the Camarines Sur

she is a local celebrity and should run for the office of Mayor.

province, south of Manila. She has been running literacy and

She says that she’s always fancied herself having a likeness to

livelihood projects for many years, and can have up to 100

Marilyn Monroe! But Dolly is not a famous actress or politician.

students at a time on the books. Her challenge however, is that

She is a dedicated public servant whose life has revolved around

Tigaon is a community of 50,000 people spread over 23 villages

improving the lives of others in her community. She is also my

and a large land area, mainly home to agricultural families. There

counterpart during my time as an AYAD. Dolly has worked for

is just no way that she can meet the need, even though my

the Department of Education for nearly 40 years, the last 15 with

nickname for her is superwoman!

the Alternative Learning System (ALS) - my Host Organisation. It seems that half the town are past students or recipients of Dolly’s

My goal during my AYAD assignment has been to increase the

numerous community education projects.

capacity and impact of ALS in the community of Tigaon. The budget allocation from the government does not allow for much

In the Philippines, as in most developing nations, if you graduate

more than Dolly’s wage and some minimal operating costs. How

from high school you are in the minority. School is simply not

could we make the opportunities ALS offers more accessible and

accessible for many young Filipinos, either due to distance,


financial barriers or family responsibilities. ALS was created by the Philippines’ national government to address the needs of the large

Much brainstorming and negotiation resulted in an exciting new

numbers of school dropouts, as well as adults who never finished

concept – a pilot program based on volunteer literacy workers,

their basic education. It provides flexible learning opportunities

one from each of the 23 villages in Tigaon. They would be

that can offer a second chance at education. Enrolees can be

recruited and trained to deliver ALS programs in their own small

mothers, farmers, elders and anyone else that falls through the

community, with Dolly supporting them from the ALS hub in the

cracks of the school system.

town centre.

5 I was initially a bit dubious – would we really find a person from

help her to coordinate the literacy worker program effectively.

each village that was not only highly literate but also willing to

We were a great team, as she was such a natural networker and

volunteer two days a week for the program? So many people in

problem solver, whilst I was able to help her with organisation,

the community were struggling to make ends meet already, what

planning and strategic thinking.

time would they have for non-paid positions? The official launch of the Literacy Worker program is in the I should not have doubted. On the first day of the Induction

last week of my placement. Local politicians and Department

Training program, I watched stunned as 23 bright-eyed and

of Education employees will be there to celebrate, including

smiling people walked into the room. There was Mary Jane, a

some from neighbouring towns who are hoping to replicate the

19-year-old college student who wanted to volunteer to gain

program. The literacy workers will officially start their community

work experience whilst studying. There was 50-something

classes by the time I will be back in Melbourne looking for a job

Norma, who said she had been looking for a way to use her gifts

and trying to settle back in to life in Australia.

as a teacher in a new way. And there was Rosemarie, a mother of five young children, living in a single room nipa (straw) hut

Although I will be very sad to say goodbye to both Dolly and

whilst her husband lives in Manila and only returns home three

all the literacy workers, I am encouraged to know that they will

times a year. They were all passionate, eager to learn and at least

continue to live and work in their hometown, carrying a new

high school graduates themselves. Although I had already been

sense of purpose and possibility.

exposed to the Filipino generosity and sense of community, I was re-inspired and humbled by the experience of meeting and

They signed up to volunteer because they really wanted to be

training the newly appointed volunteers.

part of the solution to the Philippines’ education challenges. I am proud to have co-created a program that allows them to make

The other aspect of my AYAD position was to provide Dolly with

real change for their own community. Now they hold the power

new management materials and systems for ALS that would

to start writing a new story for literacy in Tigaon and beyond.

AYAD | Allan Soutaris Country | Cambodia Assignment | Web Developer Host Organisation | Friends-International |


“You are a very good person with good soul and I am very proud that you want to come to Cambodia to help build our country and help the young generation”. Wow.

As it turns out I was to experience many of these black hole

How could I possibly describe the feeling of sitting in a

moments during my AYAD assignment and I solely blame

displaced community speaking with a mother who had

Friends-International, my host organisation.

recently lost her first born? The pure happiness of watching 12 children shampooing their hair in a sun drenched alley

How dare they?

laughing and playfully teasing each other? Or the sadness of

How dare they do such incredible work?

watching young children injecting drugs moments after being

How dare they employ such wonderful people?

given clean syringes?

How dare they encourage me to leave my desk and experience, first hand, the hardships and joys of

It was during these outreach trips and visits to the Friends-

Cambodian life?

International vocational training centre, Mith Samlanh (‘Friends’

I find it very selfish on their behalf, almost disgusting.

in Khmer), where I really fell in love with this place. I fell in love

I can think of at least one thing wrong with the above

with the warm orange blanket sunsets, unstoppable energy

statement. I’m not really a good person – I like the band Wings

Thanks to Friends-International I became so much more than

of the children – all of them, the wave of incessant smiles, the

and the first album I ever purchased was ‘Sleeping with the

a Web Developer (I gained a tan for a start, which in itself is

god awful sewer smells and of course, the work of Friends.

Past’ by Elton John (although it did include the foot tapping

unusual). I was actively encouraged to travel with the outreach

track Club at the End of the Street). These are not the traits of

teams to view and experience the work performed in the field.

a ‘good man’, in fact they are far from it.

With each visit to Mith Samlanh and journey with the outreach teams I learnt more about Friends programs. I travelled with

Travelling with the outreach teams allowed someone like

the drug, migration and education teams. I learnt about

When Phirun, a co-worker, softly spoke those very kind words

me, who would predominately be seated behind a desk, to

home based production and vocational training. Sitting and

late in my assignment my heart transformed into a black hole

experience life ‘on the ground’. Not only did it give me an

speaking with children and parents directly affected I heard

sucking every good natured gesture and warm humbling

appreciation of my work and the people it would ultimately

incredible stories of heartache but also beaming stories of

experience into its pit. I was genuinely afraid it would expand,

have an effect on but it also opened my eyes to the daily

amazing resilience and achievement.

heave and under the enormous strain, explode leaving poor

struggles of many Khmer families and children.

Phirun dripping with entrails.

Working in Cambodia with an organisation that has such a Several times upon my brief return back to Oz my friends

positive impact on the lives of so many gives me a sense of

This was not something I expected to feel in Cambodia. It’s

would rib me and say things such as, “Oh yeah, Al just went

pride and satisfaction that is just so damn addictive. Each day

not something I expected as I applied for the AYAD Program,

over and saved the world via Twitter” (usually in front of a very

I arrive at the office in the knowledge that my work, no matter

resigned from my job and definitely not something I expected

attractive young women) to which I could only sit and smile.

how small a task, will have some impact on the organisation

as I hopped on a plane to settle into my new sticky Cambodian

There is no way I could express to them or my family the

which will eventually filter into the programs helping the


journey I’ve been on.

marginalised children and families of Cambodia.


Image: Children learning health and hygiene practices with the Olympic Outreach team in Phnom Penh


That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? That’s why we applied for our AYAD assignments. I don’t really want to use the AYAD slogan ‘Making a Difference’ but that’s what we all really hoped to achieve. Go on, admit it. Travelling to Cambodia with no previous non-governmment organisation (NGO) or aid experience I had no idea what I was walking into. Who would’ve thought the self loathing hipster from Melbourne would be in Cambodia post assignment continuing his work with Friends minus the skinny black jeans and checked shirt? There is an infamous quote by Joseph Mussomeli who was the US Ambassador to Cambodia: “Be careful because Cambodia is the most dangerous place you will ever visit. You will fall in love with it, and eventually it will break your heart.” Fortunately my heart is still intact save for the frequent black hole episodes that see me twitch and convulse like a man riddled with heat rash. I have fallen in love with Cambodia although it frequently breaks my heart. There are good breaks and bad breaks. The bad breaks are the moments you can’t explain or express until you’ve lived them… come to think of it the good breaks are moments you can’t explain or express until you’ve lived them either. Fortunately I’ve suffered proportionate breaks of the good and the bad. Just when I think my heart can’t take anymore, people like Phirun approach my desk and inadvertently softly remind me not to be such a spoilt jerk. Careful, I can feel another black hole moment coming on… Allan has returned to Cambodia to work with Friends-International as an Australian Volunteer for International Development. Images: Left: Allan (back) with children at the Andong community during an outreach trip with the Mith Samlanh Wisebird team Right: Allan, back right, with the Friends-International IT and Communications Team on the last day of his assignment


genuine independence and economic and civil stability.

partners with other disability organisations (through the Timor

Amongst these challenges are the inclusion, recognition and

Leste Disability Working Group) to share resources and organise

equitable treatment of people with disabilities.

larger-scale advocacy campaigns and events.

Disability is a global issue. An estimated 15 per cent of any

Wheelchair basketball

population is likely to be disabled, and up to one in five of the

It started with a simple question: If people who mobilise in

worlds poorest have a disability1. Disability is both a cause

wheelchairs can play wheelchair basketball, then why can’t

and consequence of poverty, limiting access to education,

able bodied people also play? East Timor is a country that

employment, opportunities and resources. East Timor is no

prizes sport, making it a great method of combating stigma

exception. Some people in East Timor develop disabilities due to

and raising awareness around the capacities and strengths of

inadequate nutrition, unsanitary environments, disease, inefficient

people with a disability. A Dili-based disability NGO, Assert,

Joel, a young man who is paraplegic, expertly dribbles

health services and poor infrastructure. Others develop functional

in partnership with RHTO and the Disability Working Group,

the basketball along the court, outmanoeuvring his

and physical disabilities as a result of untreated and chronic

decided to hold a wheelchair basketball exhibition match in

opponent. He reaches the goal circle and shoots

diseases. Still more incur their disability through preventable

November. The event was to follow three months of training for

successfully, to the applause of a hundred spectators.

disease, congenital malformation, birth related incidents, physical

the newly founded Timor Leste Wheelchair Basketball Team.

Goal number one at Dili’s first ever wheelchair basketball

injury and psychological dysfunction.

The team built a relationship with an international school in


game has been scored.

Dili, which provided a team of players (without disabilities) for People with disabilities are amongst the poorest and most

practice matches and the display match itself.

Paula, an 11-year-old girl with Down syndrome, grabs

marginalised globally. In East Timor, they not only face such

the hand of a polio-affected woman enthusiastically and

challenges, but are also recipients of prevalent and culturally

Dili’s Centre for Sport and Youth hosted the inaugural event,

asks, ‘’Komesa ona!? Komesa ona!?” (“Are we starting

ingrained stigma and discrimination.

incorporating a game between two teams comprising a mix

now!?”). She and several hundred others with disabilities

of people with and without disabilities with all players using

are gathering excitedly on a scorching Dili morning in

I came to East Timor on a 12 month AYAD assignment to

wheelchairs. The afternoon commenced with live entertainment

early December. They are ready to launch International

work with Ra’es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO) Disabled People’s

from Ahisaun, a band formed of people with disabilities. The

Disability Day with a march through Dili’s streets.

Organisation. Formed in 2006, and comprising two paid staff

first match got off to an exciting start, complete with topples,

members and a cluster of volunteers, RHTO is a very small yet

stunts, entertaining trilingual commentary and many laughs.

Two events, one goal: To raise awareness about

rapidly developing non-government organisation.

Formed of

About 100 Timorese people and foreigners attended, with

disability and reduce related stigma in East Timor.

people with disabilities, the organisation strives to advocate for

raffle tickets on sale to raise money to buy further sports

and empower people with disabilities through educational, social,

wheelchairs for a national team, and to undertake display

With a population of 1.1 million people East Timor is one of

economic and political influence, to ensure they are free from

matches and advocacy work in Timorese schools in 2012. It

South-East Asia’s smallest countries. After more than 450

discrimination and stigma, and to support them to achieve a better

was a wonderful day that we hope raised the profile of and

years of colonisation, occupation and war, the newfound

quality of life. Much of RHTO’s work revolves around small-scale

awareness around capacities of people with disabilities, and

country remains under the supervision of the United Nations,

advocacy and educational work with NGOs, government bodies,

conveyed the message that those with disabilities can also

and is economically regarded as the poorest country in Asia.

schools, communities and other institutions. In addition, RHTO

play sport…and win!

East Timor faces an array of challenges as it strives to achieve

1. World Health Organization 2012

International Disability Day (IDD) IDD, held on December 5, was celebrated in Dili with fervor as a result of much planning and coordination by RHTO and the Disability Working Group. A full day of travel in the back of a pick-up truck or sandwiched in a mini bus with a limb or two out the door/window, travelling on unsealed and potholed roads, did not deter people with disabilities from descending upon Dili from surrounding districts. At 9am, after gathering outside the Palacio do Governo with 300 people with disabilities and their families, I proudly watched my counterpart, Joaozito Dos Santos, initiate the start of the march. Joaozito led the energetic and well organised crowd along Dili’s main streets, rallying people together, reminding the crowd and spectators of the rights of people with disabilities, and attracting the attention of many commuters. The march was supported by the local police who had agreed to block off the road and redirect traffic. What better way to attract attention to disability issues than to create a giant Dili traffic jam on a sweltering Friday morning! The marchers converged on a shady park, where Ahisaun welcomed the crowd before a number of speeches from important figures, including the head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste, and the President of East Timor, Dr Jose

a promise to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by May 2012! He further enthralled the crowd with a ‘grilling’ of his own government, who has been responsible for delaying the release of the National Disability Policy for the past four years. The highlight for me, however, was watching as my counterpart Joaozito led the march, and later delivered a speech to the crowd, the President, and other influential figures. He spoke with newfound confidence, articulation and precision; the result of much work together over the past seven months. It was reaffirming, reminding me why I decided to volunteer, and what we were achieving together. The day finished with further music, including a performance by Osme, one of East Timor’s most celebrated singers, and his band ‘OOPS’, of a song advocating for the rights of people with disabilities commissioned by RHTO. Students from AGAPE deaf school signed the lyrics to the song, which concluded with a freestyle rap. Attendees then enjoyed a catered lunch, over which they shared their excitement at the promise to ratify the UNCRPD, delight at being heard and respected, and the thrill of being part of a momentous event. I sat back and lapped up the pervasive sense of community and genuine inclusiveness, and returned home with a firm reminder of my purpose for coming to East Timor, and the incredible outcomes that make the hindrances, headaches and hard work all worthwhile. AYAD | Kate Outhred

Ramos-Horta. President Ramos-Horta expressed his support

Country | East Timor

for people with disabilities, and much to our amazement, made

Assignment | Organisational Capacity Building Officer Host Organisation | Ra’es Hadomi Timor Oan (RHTO) – East Timor

Images: Top: International Disability Day march Middle: A participant in the International Disability Day march Bottom: Kate’s counterpart Joaozito Dos Santos addresses the crowd at the start of the march

National Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) Australian Partner Organisation | Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) |


Image: The inaugural wheelchair basketball match in Dili

Image: Local band Ahisaun perform

City Boy and


AYAD | Andrew Hunt Country | Fiji Assignment | IT and Marketing Officer Host Organisation | The Good Neighbour International (TGNI) |


I have always been a city boy. I grew up in suburban Sydney and

The closest I have come to practical farming experience before

as a child, my family resided in London for a while. After school

my assignment was taking a potato that started sprouting in the

I studied computer science at UTS in the middle of Sydney

fruit bowl and planting it in the backyard. That little experiment

and then later worked in the city too. My life has become more

ended when I forgot where I planted the potato, so you can

married to city life as time has passed and I have enjoyed the

imagine that my skills in farming are rudimentary at best. My

fast pace of living and the sheer amount of options for almost

only agricultural training up until this point was a brief foray into

every decision on where to shop, or eat, or take salsa lessons.


After working for a couple of years I was excited to do some travel

I first visited the primary TGNI farm around two weeks after I

as an adult. My intrinsic affection for cities greatly influenced the

started work here. I was chauffeured up a very winding unsealed

travel destinations I chose, and I found myself wondering the

road for a few hours and then spent a morning taking the grand

streets of some of the world’s greatest cities. In the last 10 years

tour of the facilities. The farm is set on a small freshwater river

or so I have visited Tokyo, London, Barcelona, New York, Rio

and had a natural beauty that is undeniable. I was introduced

de Janeiro, Singapore, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Paris. They

to the chickens and pigs and even helped pick some beans.

were all amazing places with a wealth of culture, busy streets,

It was foreign to me, but a wonderful experience. Over the

great food and generally some unforgettable experiences on

months I started to learn about agriculture through conversation


and subsequent visits to the farm. I found I was able to identify different root crops by the leaves, learned about planting

When applying for the AYAD Program the romantic lure of a

seasons and strategies and even found out some plants that

remote or rural assignment was definitely present, but I found

grow wild but are used for medicine and healing.

myself applying for assignments located in my usual sanctuary of the city. I successfully applied for an assignment in Suva, Fiji,

Some days the farm would come to Suva, and there would

which is known as ‘New York of the Pacific’. The assignment

be produce and seedlings strewn about the common spaces.

was with an income generation focused NGO called The Good

Once or twice I went to the bathroom to discover baby chickens

Neighbour International (TGNI). What I didn’t know is that TGNI’s

being kept in the tub ready to be taken to villages around the

income generation projects are agricultural and based in rural

area for income generation projects. I began to feel at home in

areas around Fiji on farm sites.

this environment and really enjoyed the smells of freshly picked coriander and the soft chirping of bathtub chickens.

My role at TGNI was originally to upgrade the IT capacity of the organisation and to teach staff marketing principals for selling produce from the program. I have certainly helped in this regard with IT infrastructure upgrades and teaching some of the staff to maintain a facebook page for online presence. However, during the year I have had the opportunity to contribute in a number of other ways for the organisation. One of the most important achievements was that I was successful in a funding application. As a result of the funding TGNI was able to purchase a vehicle that will be used to service remote areas and a cooler truck to transport vegetables from income generation projects to the market. Funds were also provided for farming tools and training equipment. I will leave TGNI and my AYAD assignment with some increased skills in a number of areas that are very different to my chosen career path. I have learned important foundational principles for planting crops and taking care of farm animals, and a healthy respect for the role of nature in the success or failure of crops. I have found that I am more knowledgeable about seasons for vegetable buying and have a greater interest in the origin of fruit and vegetables I consume. I am looking forward to going back to the sanctuary of my city abode in Sydney, but TGNI is an amazing organisation with some very dedicated people who sacrifice a lot to help fight rural poverty in Fiji. I will miss everyone here a lot, and I am so grateful that the Australian Government through the AYAD Program gave me a chance to help out here and share life with the people in this organisation. As I get ready to go home, I think I am definitely still a city boy at heart, but for some reason I have a strange longing to plant a vegetable garden, and maybe get an old bathtub that I can convert into a chicken shed. Images: Opposite: Beans from the TGNI farm Right: Andrew visits a TGNI farm Top left: Taking a boat to an island in Kadavu, southern Fiji Top right: Andrew with some of the TGNI staff


Rhythm and Autism: Music


Music is a universal language.

Organisation, Centre for Disability in Development (CDD),

shake). All it took was a simple song to engage this boy who


together we both began to tackle the challenges of using

had previously shown no interest and joy in the classroom or

squat toilets dressed in the traditional salwar kameez (pants,

in life. The teachers and therapists were over the moon to see

long dress top and scarf), cooking with gas cookers and hand

Chanu respond in such a way and have now started to use

washing our clothes.

music in Chanu’s everyday school sessions.

Starting work as an Autism Management Officer was the next

Children like Chanu with both physical and intellectual

step of my journey. CDD is a non-government organisation

disabilities suffer the most in a country where only the strong

that brings hope, meaning and dignity to the lives of those

survive. Those that are lucky enough to make it to a school

persons in the community with disabilities through the

usually have poor education outcomes due to teachers’ lack

training of community workers in all areas of disability. My

of disability training and understanding. Some children in rural

role in autism development saw me placed at CDD’s autism

areas never see the light of day with their families keeping them

school, Anandashala, developing creative programs for the

inside for fear of ridicule and embarrassment. It has been part

students and providing training for the teachers and therapists.

of my role to create awareness of autism and disability in both

Working with children with complex disabilities in English could

city and rural areas to help increase understanding of and

be a challenge at times, let alone adding a different culture,

positive outcomes for persons with disabilities. This is a tough

language, ideas on therapy and the school environment.

job considering knowledge and understanding of disability in

Taking deep breaths and with my newly adopted mantra ‘just

general in Bangladesh is still very limited.








influential professors

musicologists, it



understanding that saw me pack my bags and board a plane to Bangladesh as an AYAD. Having never lived in, let alone



visited a developing country, I was immediately blown away by the sights, sounds and smells of the capital city, Dhaka. Initially, all I was able to see was a city composed of grossly disabled beggars, death defying traffic, trailing audiences of Bangladeshi children and unforgiving, unrelenting heat.


complete assault on the senses would be an understatement! Being the musician that I am, as the culture shock began to fade I began to make sense of my new environment by its unique cultural sound-scape: the drone of the traffic, the ringing of the rickshaw bells, the singing of the tea walahs as they serve up the day’s fresh brew of cha. Somehow it all collided into some sort of new age symphony of rhythms and sounds. As soon as I began to change the way I interpreted these sights and sounds of life I began to allow myself to experience a hidden, organised beauty behind the seemingly ugly, chaotic and often non-sensical working culture of Bangladesh. Swapping Dhaka’s supermarkets and cafes for rural Savar street food vendors and local cha stands marked entry into the reality of my life for the next 12 months. My home in Savar is only approximately 16 kilometres outside of Dhaka but traffic dictates whether the journey will take one or three or more hours; it’s always helpful to carry a good book! Sharing a small flat with another new AYAD also assigned to my Host

go with the flow’ I discovered that the best way I could begin to communicate with the children was to use what I knew best:

In my early months on assignment I was fortunate enough


to make some amazing connections with surrounding organisations such as Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed

Despite the cultural differences, strumming on my guitar and

(CRP). Meeting CRP founder Valerie Taylor presented me with

humming and making eye contact with the children with

an array of opportunities including attending an international

disabilities had a profound effect, one that I nor the teachers and

conference on autism in Dhaka organised by the Bangladesh

therapists were entirely expecting. In particular one young boy

Prime Minister’s daughter, Mrs Saima Wazed Hussain. The

called Chanu came to life right before my eyes as I introduced

five-day conference was attended by Indian Congress Party

a simple song about shaking the shaker until the music stops.

President Her Excellency Sonia Gandhi and Bangladesh Prime

His body straightened up, his eyes met mine and his smile lit

Minister Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina.

up the room for the first time that day as I, accompanied by his teachers and speech therapist, sang ‘jaki jaki jaki’ (shake shake

Other highlights have included meeting and discussing autism

AYAD | Kylie Hinde Country | Bangladesh Assignment | Autism Management Officer Host Organisation | Centre for Disability in Development |

Images: Top: Parachute fun in a group music therapy session Below: Meeting Mahfuz Anam, the Editor and Chief of the Daily Star Bangladesh Below right: Outdoor group music therapy session with students and their teachers from Anandashala Autism school

and music therapy with the Daily Star’s Editor in Chief Mahfuz Anam and the Independent’s Editor in Chief Mahbubul Alam. This subsequently lead to my article titled ‘Rhythm and Autism’ being published in the Independent’s health and medical journal Stethoscope. I was also a key note speaker at the Strategies for Supporting Children with Autism workshop organised by CRP in Mirpur, which has led to many invitations to run creative therapy workshops at organisations all over the country.

Aside from these incredible opportunities it is the day-to-day activities that make my time here worthwhile: visiting three different schools, working closely with the teachers, therapists and students to deliver workshops and training sessions and implementing new creative and sustainable approaches. Eight months into my assignment I feel I have made a small but positive impact on the disability sector at both a community and national level. I have discovered that the way in which music is shared by people makes it a universal language. Gently giving and taking, sharing and caring, and being open to the cultural flow here has really been the key to any intervention. Knowing that I am a stronger and more resilient woman, friend and therapist from the challenges and triumphs I have faced makes it all worthwhile. To read Kylie’s article ‘Rhythm and Autism’ online visit:



So you’re standing alone on a beach on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Due to miscommunication, your boat ride has left you, returning the four hours back to your village. You have no food or water because you didn’t expect you’d need any, your mobile has no reception, it’s about 100 degrees and you’re completely alone. Oh, and did I mention that you also just stepped on a broken bottle barefoot and are now bleeding profusely into the pure white sand? Do you: a) Wrap your foot in banana leaves and limp off into the bush in

Every volunteer has a ‘when things kind of went wrong’ tale and most of us wear them with pride. And things do sometimes go wrong – you get abandoned on a beach in the middle of nowhere, your phone gets pick pocketed, you inadvertently offend someone with your terrible dance moves. It’s all part of the experience. It’s what happens after you plop down on the white sand beach that makes the difference. I came to the Solomon Islands on a remote placement based at Buala, the provincial capital of Isabel Province. My assignment was to support a network of eight community radio stations that were struggling to engage the community and create good, participatory content. More generally, I was supporting the Provincial Youth Coordinator with his work. Buala is pretty small - people live in a mix of leaf huts and basic wooden houses. There’s electricity- sometimes - for those who can afford it. And it has the most amazing, kind-spirited, decent people I’ve ever met. My family had come to visit me for Christmas and we’d travelled the four hours up the island to the airstrip so they could fly back to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. It was here, post-departure, that I found myself bleeding on the beach without sunscreen, hat, shoes or a ride home.

search of help? b) Sharpen your Swiss Army knife ‘cos let’s face it – you’re

Then I died and I am writing this from the grave.

probably gonna have to kill the first living thing you see to use as

Not really. A couple of guys from a nearby village found me and after

food/a hat? Or;

group consultation said they would take me back to Buala in their

c) Abandon hope and collapse on the ground waiting for malaria, a crocodile or heatstroke to claim you?

boat. Done. Five minutes later we drove over an empty flour bag and semi-exploded the engine. Solution denied, we limped over to a nearby village where they left me in the safe hands of complete strangers. This

I did not do any of the above. Instead, I calmly put my hands

turned out to be one of the most fruitful experiences of my life.

on my hips, let out a low whistle and said aloud “well, this isn’t good...”

It was almost midnight and I sat in the house of the Chief eating fried spam by candlelight, discussing the day’s events and trying not to

This, apart from being the perfect example of how I failed the basic teachings of the scouts, is one of those classic volunteer stories.

bleed into his floorboards.

AYAD | Claire Varley

He asked me what I was doing in the Solomons, apart from being

Our role as volunteers, and as part of the wider international

Country | Solomon Islands

abandoned at airfields.

community, is to listen and then support people to implement

Assignment | Networked Communities Officer/Community

“I’m volunteering with the Youth Division of the Provincial

their own ideas. So much knowledge already exists in the villages

Engagement Officer


and cities – it is our role to bring them to life.

Host Organisation | Isabel Provincial Government

His eyes lit up. And then he told me about the issues facing the village youth. Not enough opportunities, too few employment

I just realised I haven’t filled my quota of buzzwords for this article

prospects. Nothing to do so drugs and alcohol helped pass the

so here they are: mutual exchange! knowledge transfer! synergy!

time. He knew exactly what the problems were and he knew

And here’s a final catch phrase: volunteer today. Now. Go on.

exactly what the village needed to fix them. And he had really

Log on to the website and do it. Because it is the most wonderful,

good, really well thought out ideas.

challenging, confronting and rewarding thing you will ever do. It changes you in a way that is irreversible and that makes you a far

Because of rough seas and a fuel shortage I stayed in the village

better person than you were before.

for two more days. The villagers were preparing for two weddings so I tagged along, helping the women prepare huge amounts

I didn’t save the world (spoiler alert!). But I made a tiny difference.

of food for the feast. In the afternoons I sat around with people

And if enough of us do, we might be able to make this world a

and ‘stori-ed’. While we worked and relaxed, people talked. They

better, fairer place.

talked about the impacts of the logging camp nearby. They talked about the problems caused by high fuel costs. They talked about

And if you ever do find yourself abandoned on a beach on an

the new school recently built in the neighbouring village. They

island in the middle of the Pacific bleeding from the foot, here’s a

talked about babies and children who had died of things that

tip: Hand sanitiser is not a good substitute for disinfectant.

don’t kill Australian babies anymore. They talked and I listened. Claire has returned to Buala to work with the Isabel Provincial The saying goes that you can’t understand people until you’ve

Government as an Australian Volunteer for International

walked a mile in their shoes and I did, literally, because my


host leant me some to wear so I would stop getting sand in my wounds.

Images: Left: Relaunching Buala FM Middle:Women Celebrating St Pauls Day in Buala Right: Celebrating Buala’s First International Womens Day

“Those three days in the village gave me time to listen to people and to share their experiences. It showed me that people can readily identify their problems and that most of the time they have pretty good ideas for how to resolve them. “


AYAD | Vijay Khurana Country | Cambodia Assignment | Radio Programmer Host Organisation | Cambodian Center for Independent Media |

24 Vijay Khurana, an AYAD

journey. We unload our gear: microphones, speakers, amplifier,

often afraid to speak out about community problems, and in

with the Cambodian Center for

recording equipment, and several crates of bottled water –

many cases there isn’t any means for people to communicate

everything we need for the community forum.

directly with the commune council. My organisation, the

Independent Media, goes along

Cambodian Center for Independent Media has organised a The ferry doesn’t have an engine as such. When we get going

series of fora to allow people to talk face to face with authorities

a man starts what looks like a propeller attached to the end of

about community concerns, requests and problems. The fora

Khsach Tunlea Commune, Kandal

a lawn-trimmer and lowers it by hand into the water. It looks

are also recorded and then broadcast on our radio station for

Province, Cambodia.

more like a leftover Mad Max prop than a means of transporting

the whole country to hear.

30-odd people across a river, but it does the job surprisingly

to a community forum in Koh

well, and in minutes we are on the other side. The ferry ramp is

We arrive at a thoroughly non-descript fork in the dirt road. All

When we get to the ferry there’s a shock. We drive our black

muddy and steep, and we have to get out and help push our

around us are rice fields and palm trees. I can only see one or

4WD away from the main road, down a dirt track towards the

tuk-tuk up the slope. Then we climb back in and continue on our

two houses. A marquee has already been set up and people

riverbank. When we see the ferry waiting for us a loud discussion

way, PA speakers perched on our knees as we trundle down

are parking motorbikes and bicycles. We set up our recording

starts up. I don’t speak enough Khmer to understand it, but I

the bumpy road.

equipment, put up our organisation’s banner, and hand out water to people as they continue to arrive.

know exactly what my colleagues are saying: there’s no way we’re putting our car on that thing.

The idea of the community forum is to give people a chance to speak out about concerns and problems they have in their

After opening remarks from Commune Councillors and the Chief

The ferry is little more than a raft: an ancient-looking flat wooden

communities. In Cambodia, the most local level of government

of Police, the people are handed the microphone and given the

barge already crowded with people and motorbikes. It hardly

is the commune: there is anywhere between five and 20 villages

opportunity to speak. Many are shy, put off by hearing their voice

looks like it will take all of us with our equipment, let alone the

in each one and it’s through commune councils that the most

booming back at them through the PA. Some are passionate–


basic community services are provided: drainage, roads, access

one woman talks emphatically through several rounds of

to healthcare, marriage and death certificates, and so on.

applause and goes on for some time until she reluctantly yields

We have no option but to leave the car here for the day and

Commune councils are also the authority most directly involved

the microphone. Because many are still not willing to speak,

hire a tuk-tuk (a small motorcycle-pulled taxi) to continue our

with the day-to-day life of a village. Yet people in Cambodia are

even in this open forum environment, people also have the

Images: Above: Koh Khsach Tunlea residents brave the heat to discuss community issues | Top Right: Vijay with colleague Ms Narin in a tuk-tuk


Bottom Right: A Koh Khsach Tunlea Commune resident addresses the public forum as local officials and CCIM director look on

opportunity to write anonymous comments on pieces of paper,

The Commune Chief promised to urge the ferry’s owners to build

at the forum. Then later there will be another community forum

which are then read out by one of the facilitators. The forum is all

a safer wharf for people, and to try to negotiate a lower price for

where people can give their take on the progress made since the

in Khmer, so it’s impossible for me to follow. I pass the time by

crossing. There is also talk of looking into the transparency of the

first forum, and raise any new concerns.

trying to catch single words I recognise, and writing them down

bidding process for the right to run the ferry service. It’s impossible to know if the people’s problems will be dealt with,

when I do. I probably look as if I’m understanding everything and taking notes. Occasionally the old man next to me looks over

Afterwards we eat lunch down by the river: fish soup, vegetables,

and how quickly any changes will come about. It’s impossible to

and smiles.

chicken, rice, and peanuts sprinkled with salt and sugar.

know if next time more people might be more willing to speak up.

My colleagues are impressed that I can pick up peanuts with

For today, though, at least a few people in a small marquee by

Afterwards my colleagues tell me what people had talked about in

chopsticks. I tell them that a lot of Australians can use chopsticks.

a dirt road have been given a microphone. Their voices will soon

the forum. Surprisingly, their main concern is something I already

I ask them how they think the forum went. They say they had

be beamed across the skies and will pour out of crackling radios

have first-hand knowledge of: the ferry. It is too expensive, people

hoped more people would come (we counted 105, 30 of whom

all over the country.

said, 1000 Riels (about 25 cents) per trip for one person with a

were women). They said that people were still too scared to

motorbike. It’s too small for farmers to properly transport their

speak out about contentious issues like corruption and domestic

goods in order to take them to sell at the market. It doesn’t run

violence, and that there were many people at the forum who

at night, and in the mornings it doesn’t start early enough to get

didn’t want to speak at all.

the commune’s children across the river to school in time for the start of class. Another big concern was that the commune has no health centre. In order to get medical treatment, the villagers rely on

But they were happy that some issues were raised and hoped that the radio show would help bring about solutions.

– you guessed it – the ferry. There are reports of babies being delivered on the ferry, and even sick and injured people dying

After the forum is edited and broadcast, there will be a follow-up

while trying to cross the river to get treatment.

program, interviewing politicians about the people’s concerns and checking on the progress of the promises made by authorities

AYAD | Stephanie Raison Country | Kenya Assignment | Communication Officer Host Organisation | Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment (LVCT) |


When I told my Australian friends that I was moving to Kenya as an

If HIV testing and counselling is the biggest revolution in HIV prevention,

AYAD many of them told me not to have sex while I was here because

then the biggest challenge is having couples attend a voluntary testing

of the country’s high HIV prevalence. Some 280 people are infected

and counselling site. Partner testing is complicated because it goes

with HIV every day in Kenya.

beyond a simple medical test and evokes sentiments around trust and fidelity. In a country with a national campaign against mpango

Approximately 1.4 million people in Kenya are living with HIV and AIDS

wa kando (sex or a relationship on the side) and where polygamy is

but the actual figure could be much higher because just under 50 per

a cultural norm, in some communities it becomes a challenge to ask

cent of Kenyans know their HIV status1 . An estimated 80 per cent of

people to test together with all their sexual partners.

Kenyans who are HIV positive don’t know that they are. 2 To tackle this challenge the Kenya National AIDS and STI Control The theme for 2011’s World AIDS Day was ‘Getting to Zero: Zero New

Programme launched a national partner testing initiative on World AIDS

HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths’ but

Day. For 21 days organisations, like my host Liverpool VCT Care and

getting to zero doesn’t mean zero sex. It means zero unprotected sex

Treatment (LVCT), invited people to get tested together with their sexual

with someone whose HIV status you don’t know.


Knowing your HIV status is the first step in prevention. If you are

Across Kenya LVCT erected mobile testing tents in areas frequented

negative then you can take measures to ensure that you stay negative

by couples. Inside the tents rapid result test kits were laid out with safe

and if you are positive then you can access treatment, care and

disposal containers, condoms, brown coloured models of a penis and

support services.

a vagina (for demonstrating how to use male and female condoms), and other equipment used by the counsellors. The rapid results test

Since sex is not an individual act you also need to know the status of your partner. Some 44 per cent of new infections in Kenya occur in heterosexual unions or regular heterosexual partnerships and another 20 per cent through casual heterosexual sex3.

1 Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2009 2 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey 2007 3 Kenya Modes of Transmission Study 2008

is carried out by pricking a person’s finger and drawing blood that is then placed on a slide. The client is then instructed how to interpret the results, which are ready in just 20 minutes. Results are confidential and the person being tested views the results first, not the counsellor. One of the strategies that counsellors are using to encourage people to bring their partners is telling them that “even if you’re tested 10 times without knowing your partner’s status you are still exposed”.

Counsellors are also taking the time to talk at length with people about

some of these stories that we hope will feature in the mainstream

partner testing.

media. It is anticipated that through media coverage of issues around HIV and testing, more people will come for testing and also that people

Testing as couples is not so much about knowing your status but

can use the materials to introduce the idea of testing to their partner.

about sharing your status with your partner and knowing your partner’s

However, there is still a long way to go.

status in a supported environment. After disclosure of status both partners discuss developing a joint plan to practice safer sex and if

This year has seen me do and experience some amazing things:

someone is infected to access treatment.

interviewing HIV discordant couples, meeting survivors of sexual violence, recording the lives of people living with HIV, sitting at tables

A strategy pioneered by LVCT to promote partner testing is celebrity

with government officials and top CEOs, trooping around slum areas

testing. After US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle

giving out condoms, going to underground gay group openings,

Obama were tested in Kisumu in 2006 there was a huge increase in

interviewing sex workers, visiting schools, documenting the deaf HIV

the number of people being tested. The CEO of Kenya’s Commercial

testing and counseling, travelling all over Kenya and sitting on the beds

Bank, Martin Oduor-Otieno and his wife, take public HIV tests every

of people who live in tin shacks. I feel privileged that these people

year. When the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya HE Mr Geoff

choose to tell me their stories, some that they have never shared

Tooth tested at LVCT together with his wife it made the national


newspaper. My friends read the article and asked where they too could get tested. While organising the event seemed simple to me for

Kenya has taught me the importance of knowing my HIV status and

my colleagues it was a major highlight and the whole office is still talking

also of knowing that of my partner. I’ve learnt that being HIV positive is

about it months afterwards.

no longer a death sentence and with the right knowledge, health care, support and without stigma people with HIV can live positively. I also

Facilitating press reporting of celebrity testing is part of my role with

now realise the importance of Kenya finding sustainable funding for its

LVCT. This includes liaising with local and international media to

antiretroviral treatment programme and that HIV testing and counselling

increase coverage of LVCT’s activities. I also give my colleagues advice

is paramount to winning the war against AIDS, something I’d never

on doing interviews and taking photos so that they can write articles, as

thought about before.

well as recording human stories of all the people we serve. HIV is no longer something to be scared of. I’ve met many Kenyans There was the girl who was raped at a party but thankfully accessed

who have been living with HIV for more than 20 years. Some are

the services at our Gender Based Violence Recovery Center we

married to HIV negative partners and have HIV negative children. What

support. Emily the HIV positive woman who comes to our clinic for

is to be feared is not knowing your HIV status. Unless more people get

treatment and who sells vegetables on the roadside. She lost her

tested, know the status of their partners and use preventative methods

sisters to HIV and cares for all their children. The gay man who had the

then the rate of new infections won’t fall to zero.

courage to tell his mum he is HIV positive.

Images: Left: Stephanie running the Masai Mara half marathon Above right: Stephanie shaking it to the latest Kenyan beats with a peer educator on board a truck promoting HIV testing and counselling Below: Stephanie’s T-shirt reads ‘together in the hood’ which always attracts attention from people on the street

World AIDS Day was an opportunity to highlight and also to gather



Image: Door to door testing in Biafra, Eastleigh South

Image: Stephanie with friend Linda at the Masai Mara Marathon


30 “Hey Carl, what if we come for a holiday with you in Sydney?” Moments before I had been explaining to two of my workmates

supporting around 40 local staff packed into rooms without

coming over again this weekend?” So after work on Friday I

air-conditioning. In the dusty heat of POM city, the conditions

went again, and this time stayed the whole weekend. A few

were very different to the few offices I had worked in before.

months passed and I was spending at least one night a week

But to be honest, that’s why I had signed up - for a change,

with Peter and his family, and we always had a great time. At

and to experience life from a new perspective.

this point I had become good friends with his son Arre and

my plans to take a two-week holiday to Sydney for a friend’s

daughter Priscilla, as well as some of their friends, many of

wedding. I only had to think for a moment… after seven

HOPE’s office had many young people working there, as well

whom were also my workmates. We went swimming at the

months spent with their families being shown around Port

as others with children and adopted children around my age.

local pool and in rivers, visited craft markets and the botanic

Moresby, the chance for these friends to meet my family and

After a few weeks one of my workmates, a middle-aged man

gardens, travelled up the mountains to nearby Sogeri, and

see my city was a dream come true.

named Peter, invited me to spend time with his family at their

went to cultural shows and other various events.

house. To begin with it was only one night. I’ll backtrack a little to set the scene. I arrived in Papua New

It was one day in September that I mentioned my plans to

Guinea as an AYAD with security briefings fresh in my mind.

That first night at Peter’s house there were eight other young

return home for two weeks to friends of Priscilla’s, Stella and

Before I applied for the assignment I knew Port Moresby would

people, five of whom were around my age. We had a great

Ovin. The two of them had been saving for a holiday and so

be potentially more dangerous than other Pacific locations,

time together, sitting on dusty crates and old containers,

Ovin asked, “Hey Carl, what if we come with you?”

but once I told my friends they were surprisingly enthusiastic

playing cards and talking. They began teaching me words in

to update me with the latest safety warnings. By the time I

their traditional language and some of the latest songs in Tok

arrived, I was ready to get into it and discover the place for

From there we got Priscilla and Arre on board and began

Pisin. One of these I’ll never forget, about a dog named Lassie


planning our trip. My friends had all seen the Sydney Harbour

that saves his owner from an evil spirit. As we laughed about

Bridge and Opera House on TV, but it was fun to think I would

the words in the song, it was easy to forget that I had come

be able to take them to see the real thing.

My assignment was with HOPE Worldwide (PNG), a small NGO

from a world away. As I left I told them all I’d come back again

punching far above its weight and providing valuable medical,


educational and social services around Port Moresby (POM) and across the country. Our office was a converted house,

As our departure date approached, Arre began the countdown, and soon two weeks became two days. On the plane he said

Another week or so passed and Peter asked me “Carl, are you

with a big smile, “only two minutes now”. As the plane arrived

over Sydney I saw Arre shrink back from the window. Having spent most of his life in his village in the highlands I think it was a shock for him to see the number of buildings and cars and roads that tangle and weave their way all over the Sydney basin.

Forming relationships and spending time with friends taught me a lot about living simply - eating garden food, cooking outside,

There was so much to see and do in such a short a time; beaches,

piling into the house to sleep, and washing

restaurants, nightlife, cinemas, bookshops, animals, Katoomba,

from drums - to name a few things.

trains, the Panthers Leagues Club, an Australian wedding, and even the things I was most glad to have been away from such as fashion stores and McDonalds. It was impossible to walk down a single street without Stella and Priscilla disappearing to look around inside one of the shops along the way (usually more than one). But still, we were together and we enjoyed every moment. One of the reasons I went to PNG was to leave behind the busyness and the material things that take up so much of our attention in Australia.

AYAD | Carl O’Sullivan Country | Papua New Guinea Assignment | Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Host Organisation | HOPE Worldwide (PNG) | Australian Partner Organisation | HOPE Worldwide (Australia) |

I found great happiness in the PNG culture of giving and not hoarding for yourself, and of living in close quarters with extended family (and plenty of other friends as well). While it was a blessing to be able to show my friends the bright lights and attractions of Sydney, I would prefer to slow down and take things at their pace, rather than having them speed up to ours. Images: Right: Carl dressed in traditional PNG clothing with his friends Below left: Taking in the New Years Eve fireworks with the PNG flag, Left to right Ovin, Stella, Carl, Cam, Priscilla, Gus and Arre Below right: Resting at the Opera House. Left to right Ovin, Arre, Stella, Priscilla, Carl and Cam



RAYAD | Emma Larssen Country | Indonesia Assignment | Water Safety Education Officer Host Organisation | Indonesia Surf Life Saving Association Australian Partner Organisation | Surf Life Saving Australia |

Images: Main: Emma with a group of Nippers at Kuta Beach Opposite Page: Balawista Badung Lifeguards with past members and the Indonesia Surf Life Saving Association President

33 Writing this from the comfort of my couch makes me

nearly all 148 male lifeguards would cram into one small room

For the lifeguards, basic swimming and stroke correction

appreciate the simple things in life. Like having a couch, as well

with no air conditioning. We would discuss current issues,

training was very well received as most had never been taught

as clean running water, a flushing toilet, and the opportunity to

training updates, finances and general happenings of the

the correct techniques or trained in a pool before. Seeing the

do simple things such as go to the beach and learn to swim.

Badung Regency Surf Life Saving Association (Balawista). I

improvement in these men each week was very rewarding

The latter is a great Australian pastime and something that is

heard many ask, “Who is this bule (white person)?”

and the thanks I received for showing someone their elbow

taken for granted. I have come to realise this more so after my year as an AYAD in Bali.

was too bent was more than enough to realise I was making a I formed a strong relationship with my counterpart, I Made


Suparka, and then gradually built rapport with the rest of My assignment as Water Safety Education Officer with the

the association members. At the beginning it was difficult. I

This training led to the opportunity for an Indonesian team to

Indonesian Surf Life Saving Association (Balawista) was

had been referred to as the ‘shiny new toy’, but there was

compete at the Arafura Games in Darwin for the first time. I

supported by Australian Partner Organisation (APO) Surf Life

also a greater interest as to why I was actually there. I spent

introduced extra training, competition skills and programs with

Saving Australia (SLSA). I have been involved in surf lifesaving

time talking to my new colleagues, getting to know them to

a select few members who then went on to compete at the

for some 15 years in Sydney and learnt to swim, like most

gain trust and understanding and it wasn’t long before I then

games in May. In total a team of four men, two women, the

Aussie kids, at a young age. You would think that in Bali, an

became just ‘one of the boys’.

Balawista Indonesia President, a Team Manager and I as Team

island surrounded by water, people would have a general

Coach, headed off to take part in competition. The team had a

understanding of the beach and the ocean. However, they do

My first move was introducing training programs for the

great time and won a swag of medals including 1st and 2nd in


current lifeguards and also for some local school students

the Men’s Beach Flags and Women’s Beach Sprint. Needless

and teachers. During the schools program I found it difficult to

to say they were extremely chuffed!

Life in Bali didn’t begin well. With a case of the dreaded Bali-

understand why some teenagers had never swum in the ocean

belly leading to a kidney infection and a visit to Bali International

before as Bali has some of the most beautiful beaches in the

During the year I also started a Nipper program that took

Medical Centre, my first two weeks weren’t the way I’d

world. Gradually these children became more confident as the

place on Kuta Beach. Nippers in Australia are junior surf

imagined my ‘once in a lifetime experience’ to start. At work, I

sessions continued and by the end of the training programs

lifesavers who take to their local beach each Sunday morning

attended the first of many Friday morning meetings and training

it was warming seeing how much they enjoyed the new

in summer to learn about beach safety and participate in water

sessions - or ‘Sweatbox Fridays’ as they were called - where


activities. This was the vision I had in mind when introducing

Image: Otesha Tour group members pose for the camera


Images: Main: Balawista instructor demonstrating board rescue to school students during a training program Opposite Page: Balawista instructor teaching prospective lifeguards how to use a spinal collar

Nippers to Bali. On an unusually cold and rainy morning I walked to work thinking that this venture would be a flop – could you imagine parents wanting to drive their kids to some program called ‘Nippers’ on a motorbike in the rain? Well, I was proven wrong with 32 children showing up. Each Sunday more and more local children would sign up for the free two-hour program. By the end of the season in October a total of 105 children had registered. Several workshops in program writing and delivery helped overcome instructors’ reservations that they had never trained children before. It was a win-win for all, as the students enjoyed themselves and the instructors now have the confidence to continue the program next season. This type of sustainability is a desirable outcome of the AYAD Program. Outside of work I was welcomed into my counterpart Mades’ home and witnessed parts of Balinese life that the average tourist would never see. A traditional wedding ceremony, the funeral of a family member, a tooth-filing ceremony, and a temple blessing. Wearing a traditional kebaya and sarong I watched and participated in these colourful events that involved a coming together of family and community with the local Banjar members (community groups) at

Working with Balawista and having the support of an APO like SLSA has and will continue to benefit both parties. With a common goal of saving lives in the water it is clear that as a leading provider of water safety education SLSA can continue to assist Balawista in maintaining current world standard practices so it can provide a better service to the local Balinese community as well as keeping tourists safe. This will aid in drowning prevention in Bali and hopefully spread to other parts of Indonesia. As a Returned AYAD (RAYAD) I am fortunate to be able to watch this relationship continue in a new role with SLSA as International Support Officer. Here I still feel a connection to Balawista as SLSA takes on an active position in sustainable training and development programs in Indonesia, as well as various other countries around the world. Hopefully this will lead to a more rewarding career within the

the various events.

organisation both domestically and internationally.

Experiencing life with local people I gained a greater understanding

Swapping the beach for a desk and computer, I reflect on my time

of Bali’s cultures and traditions. At first, work was frustrating with things not happening as they would back in Australia. However, this is when you learn to adapt and change in order to achieve your goals. I believe it is important as an AYAD to be able to merge into the life of your colleagues and organisation to gain more of a sense of how things run. I learnt patience, as time didn’t have the same meaning I came to realise that while things may not happen straight away they would eventually happen. I found this to be quite reassuring - after a while.

in Bali and feel happy knowing that I was able to impart my skills and knowledge to the Balawista lifeguards to improve their operation and efficiency in a lot of ways and that this will continue to be of benefit to many in the future.


Sarah experienced many challenges in her placement at KATILOSA but her excellent social skills, adaptability and efforts to learn the local language of Tetun, meant that she was a very self-sufficient worker. Many Hands offered ongoing support through email and some phone conversations, as well as some advice and referrals for contacts in Timor. The APO was also keen to provide concrete support and made a significant donation of equipment to KATILOSA. This included toys


Many Hands International is a non-government organisation

and educational items for the arts-based playgroup, an outdoor

established by Australian cultural anthropologist, Holly Schauble in

climbing frame, musical instruments and arts materials. Rotary


Melbourne, who delivered the items and equipment, also contributed computers and sewing machines for a livelihood development project

While raising her young family in a regional town in East Timor,

at low cost.

Holly observed that much of the work pursued by development organisations was ineffective because insufficient attention was

Many Hands was able to collaborate with KATILOSA on a community

being paid to the role of culture in development. She recognised an

action theatre project that was initiated during Sarah’s assignment.

opportunity for organisations to excel their results by looking more

Sarah supported KATILOSA and other disability workers to attend a

closely at the influence of culture on people’s choices and way of life.

weekend skills development workshop run by Many Hands, which sparked an enthusiasm to establish a theatre group to promote

Holly established Many Hands to prioritise cultural, assets-based

disability rights in Timor that we hope will be an ongoing initiative.

community development, recognising culture as a highly-valued aspect of Timorese life and a sustainable asset. She saw the potential

A great outcome of the partnership was that Many Hands was able

for culture as a base for long-term development that may have

to hire Sarah for a new project at the end of her AYAD assignment

beneficial cultural, social, economic and environmental outcomes.

– Sarah will spend another 12 months in Timor working to publish a series of educational books. Many Hands was pleased to be able to

Many Hands first partnered with the AYAD Program by supporting

utilise Sarah’s community development training and artistic skills, and

the placement of Sarah Daley in 2010. Sarah’s assignment with

she was pleased to have ongoing work building on her experience in

KATILOSA, a disability organisation near the Timorese regional town

Timor and her well-developed networks. Both parties are delighted!

of Baucau, was originally supported by another Australian Partner Organisation (APO) but, when it found itself unable to continue the

Kim Dunphy

relationship, Many Hands was pleased to be able to take over.


Prior to the change of APOs, Sarah Daley and I met in Timor and

Many Hands International

shared ideas during my visit to Baucau. Many Hands shared the goals of the original APO of understanding art as an integral aspect of culture, and the potential to support development through the arts.

Images: Top: Sarah playing drama games with children during an arts program Middle: A child playing with blocks donated from APO Many Hands International Bottom:Sarah with counterpart Nina and participants in the Baucau Training & Rehabilitation Centre

resources when I first arrived, so we would use recycled items

ago were often hidden because of the stigma they experienced.

Reflections of an APO supported AYAD: Expanding possibilities for children with a disability through art and play in East Timor

and brainstorm craft activities with what was available. I would

I remember that the work is really making an impact on the lives

ask the staff to teach me local games and songs and translate

of these children in a positive way. Whilst working with limited

English nursery rhymes and games into Tetun.

resources and in a challenging environment has meant I have had

When I first arrived in East Timor in early November 2010, I didn’t

with children with physical disabilities and therefore were unaware

I am very thankful for the support of my Australian Partner

quite imagine the impact this country, the work and the people

of what to do with children with intellectual disabilities. The play

Organisation (APO) Many Hands International. The organisation

would have on my life. I worked with an organisation called

and art groups have been particularly successful with children

conducted fundraising and sent a shipment through Melbourne

KATILOSA, (Klibur Alzeizadus Timor Loro Sae) which translates

with intellectual disabilities. During my assignment I have seen a

Rotary of toys, materials, musical equipment and sewing

into Disabled Persons organisation of East Timor.

change in the behaviour of the children and their development.

machines for an income generation program I helped establish. It

They have really responded to the programs, the activity space,

wasn’t only the children who attend the centre who enjoyed the

KATILOSA works predominantly with children and young people

the emphasis on play and reading and the opportunity to learn

toys, for many of the staff who grew up in the villages never had

with disabilities with an understanding that early detection,

and reach their full potential.

the opportunity to play with toys like kids in Australia.

outcomes. Programs focus on disability-inclusive education

Of course, my assignment held some big challenges which are

While my year has definitely had its ups and downs, I feel I have

and rehabilitation, and community awareness raising through

part of the realities of working in a developing country. One week

only scratched the surface of what I can do in East Timor. The

advocacy campaigns aimed at to overcoming social stigmas

the programs would be running successfully and everything

people and the spirit of the country have won my heart. Through

that act as a major obstacle for people with disability accessing

seemed to be working really well. I would be smiling at our

my APO, I have an opportunity to return to Timor to work on a

services in East Timor.

success and singing all the new children’s songs I had learnt

project developing books with children in their local dialects, as

to appreciate small victories, I still feel my assignment has been Most of the time I felt incredibly lucky to work with KATILOSA


and the children it supported. Staff had previously only worked

prevention and education are effective ways to achieve strong

as I rode home on my motorbike. Then the next week, after a

part of a project with local NGO The Alola Foundation. The books

My assignment involved setting up programs in the remote

downpour of rain, the road would be a big mud pit. A car could

will be part of a larger project that focuses on using mother-

village of Darasula and working alongside local staff to run a radio

not go through the bog, so we could not bring any children to

tongue languages in the first years of education to improve

advocacy campaign. I worked with my counterparts to establish

the centre. I began to question why a centre for people with

educational outcomes for children in East Timor. I look forward to

an inclusive playgroup and arts program for children with all

disabilities was built in a place which is so inaccessible, when the

this next challenge, with a little less naivety about what is ahead


most important thing is accessibility.

but with enthusiasm to return to my newfound community of

It took the first few months to make any real progress. First I had

The biggest obstacle to work in East Timor is the poor

to develop adequate language skills, as no one in my workplace

infrastructure as result of limited development and civil unrest,

spoke English. As my language skills developed, so did my

which leaves children and families living in impoverished

relationships within the country.

conditions. I would get so frustrated by the lack of resources


but the Timorese with so much strength and resilience just keep My assignment was really fun and a major highlight was the

going. I have learnt so much about patience and acceptance

amazing energy that my counterparts brought to everything

whilst working in an uncertain environment. I remember that we

they did. We ran workshops to show staff how to use games,

have been able to develop programs that are fun, educational

music, art and drama to develop children’s skills. There were no

and inclusive for these children with disabilities, who only 10 years

AYAD | Sarah Daley Country | East Timor Assignment | Disability Communication and Advocacy Officer Host Organisation | Kliber Aleziadus Timor Loro Sae East Timorese Disabled Peoples Organisation (KATILOSA) Australian Partner Organisation | Many Hands International |


Australian Partner Organisations The AYAD Program works with a diverse range of Australian Partner Organisations (APOs) who provide support, enthusiasm and expertise to projects in all our partner countries.


APOs are Australian government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), educational institutions and private companies that have or wish to establish links with organisations working in development in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

The benefits of being an Australian Partner Organisation are many and varied, including building new partnerships in our region, providing an amazing professional development opportunity for staff and making a positive contribution to development.

»»Adventist Development and Relief »»Australian Rugby League Agency Australia »»Australian Rugby Union »»Agri-Science Queensland »»Australian Salesian Mission »»AIDS Council of NSW Overseas Fund

»»CoDesign Studio

»»Arts Access Australia

»»Australian Sports Commission

»»Crawford Fund

»»Engineers Without Borders

»»Arup International Development

»»Australian Volleyball Federation

»»Credit Union Foundation Australia

»»Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions

»»Australian Youth Climate Coalition


»»Environmental Defender’s Office New South Wales (Ltd)

»»Asia Pacific Journalism Centre »»Attorney-General’s Department »»Australian Broadcasting Corporation »»Australian Catholic University »»Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research »»Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation

»»Baptist World Aid Australia »»Birds Australia »»Birrigai at Tidbinbilla »»Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation »»Brisbane Institute of Strength Based Practice »»Buk Bilong Pikinini Canberra Office

»»Australian Electoral Commission

»»Burnet Institute

»»Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

»»Cancer Council of Queensland

If you are interested in learning more about partnering with the AYAD Program, please contact the AYAD Partnerships Team on (freecall) 1800 225 592 or partnerships@

»»Australian Football League - Oceania

»»CARE Australia

The AYAD Program would like to thank our active APOs for their involvement and support.

»»Australian Mekong Resource Centre

»»Centrelink Australia

»»Australian National University

»»ChildFund Australia

»»Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific »»Australian Human Rights Centre

»»Cardno Emerging Markets

»»Caritas Australia »»CBM Australia - Nossal Institute Partnership

»»Australian Institute of International »»Centre for Refugee Research UNSW Affairs »»Charles Sturt University

»»Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing »»CLAN (Caring and Living as Association Neighbours) »»Australian Red Cross

»»Commonwealth Director of Public »»East Timor Women Australia Prosecutions »»Empowering Communities »»Country Women’s Association Australia

»»Bahay Tuluyan Philippines Australia »»CSIRO International »»Bali Street Dog Fund

»»Earth Systems Pty Ltd

»»CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research »»CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems »»Deakin University »»Department of Agriculture and Food (WA) »»Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry »»Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations »»Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation (QLD)

»»Fair Trade Films »»Federal Court of Australia »»FIBA Oceania (Oceania Basketball Confederation) »»Flinders University »»Football Federation Victoria »»Foundation for Developing Cambodian Communities »»Foundation for Development Cooperation »»Friends and Partners of East Timor »»Friends of Venilale »»GHD Pty Ltd »»GK Ancop Australia

»»Department of Immigration and Citizenship

»»Global Development Group

»»Department of Justice and Attorney General (NSW)

»»Griffith University, Griffith International

»»Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

»»GRM International

»»Development Gateway


»»Global Sustainable Energy »»Department of Infrastructure, Solutions Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Office of »»Grameen Foundation Transport Security »»Green Cross Australia

»»Habitat for Humanity Australia

Image: AYAD Emma Larssen (right) enjoying some Bali downtime with fellow Bali AYADs Danielle Sturevski and Rebecca Gill (Intake 28)

»»Health Communication Resources »»Monash Univeristy Inc. »»Murdoch University »»Hockey Australia »»National Council of Churches in »»Hope for Cambodian Children Australia

»»Rotary Club of Prospect

»»The Leprosy Mission Australia

»»Royal Australasian College of Physicians

»»Transparency International Australia

»»Royal Flying Doctors Service

»»UN WOMEN Australia

»»WWF - Australia

»»HOPE Worldwide (Australia)

»»Netball Australia

»»Youth Challenge Australia

»»New Hope Cambodia Australia

»»Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children


»»Humane Society International

»»UNHCR Canberra

»»YWCA Australia

»»Indigo Foundation Inc.

»»New Hope Foundation

»»Industry and Investment NSW

»»Oceania Athletics Association

»»International Centre for Eyecare Education

»»Oceania Rowing Confederation

»»International Cricket Council East Asia Pacific »»International Development Law Organisation »»International Rugby Board »»Interplast Australia & New Zealand »»James Cook University »»JTA International »»KOTO International »»La Trobe University

»»Oceania Softball Confederation/ Softball Australia »»Opportunity International, Australia »»OT Australia »»Oxfam Australia »»Oxfam International Youth Partnerships

»»Royal Life Saving Society Australia »»Salvation Army »»Save the Children Australia »»Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association »»Scouts Australia »»Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) »»Southern Cross University »»Speech Language & Learning: Educational Therapy Consultancy

»»Merri Community Health Services

»»UnitingWorld »»University of Adelaide »»University of Canberra »»University of Melbourne »»University of New England »»University of New South Wales

»»Peaceworks Pty Ltd

»»University of Sydney

»»People with Disability Australia

»»Stop Traffick

»»Permaculture Research Institute of »»Surf Lifesaving Australia »»Lotus Outreach Australia Australia »»Surf Lifesaving Tasmania »»Many Hands International »»Plan International Australia »»TEAR Australia »»Marie Stopes International Australia »»Queensland University of »»Tennis Australia Technology »»Marist Asia-Pacific Solidarity »»The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award »»Questacon International Association - Asia »»Media, Entertainment and Arts Pacific Regional Office Alliance »»Radio 4EB »»Menzies School of Health Research

»»UniQuest Pty Ltd

»»St George Hospital Renal Department

»»Lifeline International

»»Rainforest Rescue Ltd

»»The Fred Hollows Foundation

»»RMIT University

»»The George Institute for International Health

»»Rose Charities Australia


»»Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA

»»University of Newcastle

»»Pacific Calling Partnership

»»World Vision Australia

»»UNICEF Australia

»»St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre

»»Pacific Asia Tourism Pty Ltd

»»World Society for the Protection of Animals

»»University of Queeensland

»»University of Tasmania »»University of Western Australia »»University of Western Sydney »»URS Sustainable Development »»Wetlands International – Oceania »»White Ribbon Foundation »»Women With Disabilities Australia »» Women’s Information and Referral Exchange »»World Bank Group

40 .........................................................



Exchange Feb-May 2012  

Exchange Feb-May 2012

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