February - May
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Magazine
IN THIS ISSUE: GETTING TO ZERO IN KENYA CITY BOY AND BATHTUB CHICKENS CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE: SOLOMON ISLANDS
AYAD | Melanie Kay Country | Philippines Assignment | Community Development Officer Host Organisation | Department of Education (DepEd) | www.deped.gov.ph
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.
5 I was initially a bit dubious â€“ 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 Philippinesâ€™ 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 | www.friends-international.org
“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-
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
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.
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 www.who.org
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) | www.afdo.org.au
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) | tgni.org
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.
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 | www.cdd.org.bd
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: http://www.theindependentbd.com/stethoscope/82066-rhythm-forautism.html
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
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 | www.ccimcambodia.org
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
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
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) | www.lvct.org
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
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
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 Oâ€™Sullivan Country | Papua New Guinea Assignment | Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Host Organisation | HOPE Worldwide (PNG) | www.hopewwpng.org.pg Australian Partner Organisation | HOPE Worldwide (Australia) | www.hopewwaustralia.org.au
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 | www.sls.com.au
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
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 | www.manyhands.org.au
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
»»Arts Access Australia
»»Australian Sports Commission
»»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
»»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@ austraining.com.au
»»Australian Football League - Oceania
The AYAD Program would like to thank our active APOs for their involvement and support.
»»Australian Mekong Resource Centre
»»Australian National University
»»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
»»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)
»»Youth Challenge Australia
»»New Hope Cambodia Australia
»»Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
»»Humane Society International
»»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
»»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
»»Rainforest Rescue Ltd
»»The Fred Hollows Foundation
»»The George Institute for International Health
»»Rose Charities Australia
»»Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
»»University of Newcastle
»»Pacific Calling Partnership
»»World Vision 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