Destination Dreaming Latest News

Important Notice to Program Leader Applicants

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application for the Program Leader role advertised through Ethical Jobs. We have been in touch with all candidates who applied for this role. If you haven’t heard from us, unfortunately we haven’t received your application. Please get in touch ASAP if this is the case, as we have had a couple of people call/email recently regarding applications that have not come through to our email. Thank you, Kate

The donations that do more harm than goood

Although well intentioned, how often have you given goods to charity on the assumption that anything would be helpful, without a thought to whether the gift would be of genuine use?
Think back a month or so to Christmas- how many gifts did you receive from givers that meant well, but just don’t fit, or don’t work for you? Or gifts that are really about the giver- those that are easy, cheap, make them feel good or are just considered socially the right thing to do?

So often we have seen groups that mean well adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to projects, designing a project so they have something that can be completed by paying volunteers, or implementing the cheapest options so that they can be scaled up. Volunteer groups planting crops in the name of service (for communities whose sole source of income is farming), unskilled teenagers constructing school buildings on ‘service’ trips, computers given to a school without power to charge them … all projects and ideas that have made things worse in the community, regardless of the good intentions.

When looking to support charities or aid programs it’s vital to seek out organisations that:

  • implement programs based on local community need and that strengthen the local development capacity;
  • are committed to long-term, sustainable and quality projects;
  • don’t engage volunteers in roles that can be completed by local people.

If you are considering giving donations or aid, consider what would be the best solution if you were faced with a similar challenge in your own life. And whether they meet the following criteria recommended by USAID:

  • Items are specifically requested by a charitable or local organisation working on-site, and
  • Items are available in sufficient quantity to serve affected populations,
  • Items are easily integrated into existing relief and development programs,
  • Items are monitored for effectiveness.
  • Transportation costs are paid for by the donor
  • The recipient organization has a distribution plan

To which we would add- items cannot to be sourced locally.

One of the best blog’s on this issue is by development veteran Saundra Schimmelpfennig, whose posts are published on the US Agency for International Development website. We’ll leave you with a quote from her:

“One of my best gifts ever was the shortwave radio my sister gave me just before I left for the Peace Corps. I was so attached to it that I kept it with me wherever I went in my house…That radio was my lifeline to the English speaking world for two years. How did my sister know to give it to me? She asked what I needed most.”

A Wonderful Change of Scenery… and Phone Number

The Destination Dreaming office has moved, which also means a new office number. Please note that as of Friday 7th June, the office can no longer be reached on (03) 5255 5148.

Thanks to construction boom in Ocean Grove, the phone technician will be in to connect our new number in the first week of July. Until then, please contact our Program Director, Clint Miller on 0402 867 202. Alternately, our 24 hour emergency contact number during the winter holiday programs is 0417 123 799.

St Catherine’s School Students Spend Easter Connecting Through Netball in Fiji

While most of their classmates were celebrating Easter this year with their families, 14 girls from St Catherine’s School in Toorak gave all that up for a very different Easter experience. Destination Dreaming was proud to support the girls as they ventured deep into the remote Fijian Highlands on a 10-day immersion experience. The purpose of the inaugural program was to engage with a rural Fijian community and young people their own age, support the development of netball skills and participate in intercultural netball fixtures.

The students played three netball fixtures against three different communities throughout the program. The school capitalised on netball as a strong common bond between the Australian and Fijian girls to engage across cultures, build friendships, and extend the netball skills of their Fijian peers.

When most people think of Fiji, they picture exotic islands and 5-star resort holidays, but these young adventurers experienced something very different. 17-year-old student Sarah said “[t]his experience taught us that the most important things in life are family and friends and that the people who have the least give the most.”

Teacher in charge, Ms Andrews, said:

[t]his experience is critical for the development of these young women. They learnt that people can connect with each other regardless of the age, race, religion, socio-economical situation and given the right opportunities they will develop strong friendships and learn from each other.

It was wonderful to work with St Catherine’s School in providing this opportunity for a fantastic community of young women. A huge thank-you to the organising teachers, Ms Andrews and Ms Leonard, the parents of the students involved and Program Leader Tom Richardson.

Click here to view photos from the program on our Facebook page.

Sacred Heart College Girls’ Easter in Timor

Destination Dreaming is proud to have formed a partnership with Sacred Heart College in Geelong. This Easter, 29 Sacred Heart College students traded chocolate eggs for a taste of life from a very different viewpoint to what they’re accustomed.

The girls began their 10 day community initiative in Dili, visiting historical landmarks such as Chega museum and Santa Cruz Cemetery before travelling eastward to Baucau. They were made to feel right at home: singing, dancing and laughing with members of the local community. The Timorese and Australian girls ran activities for one other, sharing Australian culture in return for Timorese culture, and great friendships were made. The Geelong girls were hands-on in the preparations for Holy Week, which meant so much to the 98% Catholic Timorese population.

A highlight of the visit was the food, and even a green grass snake at a local restaurant couldn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm. With Holy Week in full swing, the Sacred Heart girls spent most of their days living like local Timorese. They swam at the local pool every day, often providing much entertainment for the locals, and caught a bus to beautiful Baucau beach. On Good Friday, the students joined the procession to the cathedral where hundreds of Timorese gathered to attend mass.

The sense of community and family was not lost on the girls. The girls were lucky enough to be visited by Ms Margie Beck, an inspirational Australian ex-pat now living in Baucau and a regular visitor to Sacred Heart College in Geelong, as well as spending time with Ms Agatha, a local Timorese woman who has also spent some time at the College. Hearing about the challenges that the locals face every day left a strong impression on the Sacred Heart girls.

The group arrived safely back in Dili at the end of their journey and spent their final day visiting the Resistance museum, the Alola Foundation and the local market. Following lunch, the team had their program reflection session and shared their insights and what they’d each learned from the program.

Some of the feedback shared by the girls included:

Jess, 16 years old:

The most important thing I learnt was not to complain and take things for granted, to make the most of what we have.

Hannah, also 16:

I learnt that it’s the small things in life that are the most important, we saw the Timorese girls so happy with their family, friendships and community and they don’t have things like TV, computer or air conditioning.

Destination Dreaming would like to say a huge thank you to all the parents and Sacred Heart College community for supporting this student visit to Dili and Baucau. All the girls who attended had their eyes opened to another culture in a way that only first hand experience can achieve.

To see photos from the program, you can view the Photo Album on Facebook

Clonard College’s First Visit to Their Viqueque Friendship School

Destination Dreaming is thrilled to be working with Clonard College, who this April embarked upon their first visit to their Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools partner school. Within only four days, the Clonard College team could already be described as well travelled! After leaving Melbourne on Sunday, the team ventured to Darwin that evening, Dili on Monday, Baucau on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the team arrived safely in Viqueque.

The 10 day program featured many highlights, including meeting the Australian Ambassador, visiting the Alola Foundation head office, eating fresh fish on the beach, and of course meeting many amazing local people along the way.

The Clonard team spent a week in Viqueque, where they are partnered with Uaimori Primary School through the Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools program. Thursday was spent with their sister primary school, meeting the students and spending the day in the classrooms and playground. Even though it was school holidays, about 50 of the local students came to school to meet the group and play some games. There was much laughter while the young people from two different cultures connected through play. The Principal, Mr Bernardo, was delighted with the way the two schools connected and is very keen to continue the visits next year.

Friday was a special day, with the team joining the entire town marching in the Good Friday Easter Procession. There was a live re-enactment of the 14 Stations of the Cross and the crucifixion of Jesus, which the girls and staff watched with more than 3000 local people.

Easter weekend included the team preparing a traditional Timorese lunch that was shared with 20 students from the local primary school, a swim in a fresh waterhole and Sunday Mass. The group arrived safely back in Dili on Monday night and spent the day learning more about Timorese history and the local economy with visits to Dili museums and local businesses. Following lunch on the beach, the group had a formal program reflection session, sharing many amazing insights and learning experiences, including:

Teacher – Michael McCallum:

Our students arrived in Timor with a solid base of information on Timorese history and culture, but nothing could have prepared them for the real deal. The students were challenged everyday to walk with the locals, dealing with the heat, long bumpy road trips, new food, language, infrastructure and environment. Each day the students grew stronger as individuals and as a group and this was largely thank to Destination Dreaming and the way they connected our kids into the community… well done Destination Dreaming.

Year 11 student Emily:

I learnt that material things are not always the most important things and how beneficial it is to connect with different people and listen to them.

Year 11 student Hayley:

This trip has taught me a lot about culture, history and most importantly people. I learnt that the difference between Australian and Timorese cultures are that Australians take their freedom for granted.

Year 11 student Maddie:

Throughout this trip my main highlight was the Easter celebrations. It was great way to learn about culture and community.

A huge thank you to all the parents and Clonard College community for supporting this pilot student visit to Viqueque- an amazing learning experience for the girls who attended, and a wonderful foundation for future engagement with Uamori Primary School.

To see photos from the program, you can view the Photo Album on Facebook

Clint’s February Visit to Fiji in Preparation for Four Fantastic New Programs in 2013

Almost 10 months had passed since my last visit to Fiji. It was fantastic to be back, particularly in the highlands of Viti Levu- one of the best places in the world. I was extremely fortunate to be able to make this trip, in preparation for four Destination Dreaming programs running in Fiji in 2013.

This was also a fantastic opportunity to check in with the community projects Destination Dreaming has supported in recent years. We are thrilled that the Nasivikoso Village Primary School is finally completed and operating. This project is something that Destination Dreaming and its participants has been supporting since 2008, including raising over $16,000 for the construction of the school. It was an amazing feeling to walk up the hill and see the school looking so polished and perfect, and with the village so proud of this achievement.

Destination Dreaming has also been in discussion with the Methodist Church Humanitarian Department regarding installation of a water filter for the village. It was great to be in the village with representatives of the Department to plan the delivery of $6,000 of funds to install another SkyJuice filter for the benefit of the school.

The Fiji Islands, like many tropical destinations, have had a tough few years with floods, cyclones and other natural disasters. In December 2012, an extremely destructive tropical cyclone, TC Evan, damaged many villages in the western division of Fiji, including areas our partner communities are situated. We are really pleased to have four fantastic programs in Fiji this year, and are excited to bring some support and new partnerships to these amazing communities.

During my February visit, it was great to check in with these communities in planning for the 2013 programs. This is going to be a really exciting year for Destination Dreaming in Fiji and the great schools we’re working with, and we look forward to bringing continued updates of the programs and projects to you.

You can see some photos from the trip by clicking here

What Did 2012 Hold For Our Partner Schools Across Australia?

As this is our last news item for 2012, we wanted to highlight some of the wonderful work school communities around Australia have been involved in this year. We hope this gives you a little extra inspiration to take into your school activities for 2013.
In 2012 we were lucky enough to work with 112 wonderful young people and teachers from 8 school communities across Australia, New Zealand and England. Schools and community groups from Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand and England joined us on community engagement and intercultural learning programs across Asia Pacific and Africa. In case you missed them during the year, check out the full story from each of these programs by clicking the relevant link:

  • Round Square delegates from Scotch Oakburn College and Westfield School (all the way from the United Kingdom) connected with a remote school in the Ngong Hills, Kenya;
  • The male members of the Goodrick Family headed to Fiji for a community engagement program;
  • Sacred Heart College from Hobart connected with a Junior School in rural Timor;
  • 14 delegates and co-Directors headed to Timor Leste for the fourth consecutive United Nations Youth Australia Pacific Project;
  • St Michael’s Collegiate headed to Central Australia for their first program connecting with Yipirinya Primary School;
  • A second group of staff and students from Scotch Oakburn College, including the College Principal, completed their second visit to their partner community in Timor Leste;
  • Melbourne High School students visited their partner community in West Arnhem for the second consecutive year;
  • Program Director Clint Miller trained two groups of indigenous employees at Xstrata Mine and led a four-week indigenous training program on behalf of Beyond Billabong.

We are so excited about the programs coming up for 2013, as the community partnerships of each of our client schools continue to grow and more young people have the opportunity to learn and engage with their peers across the world.
Keen to see your school on this list for 2013? Get in touch in the New Year to capture the amazing opportunities for your staff and students that arise through engagement with another community, and the critical life lessons for young people through getting outside the classroom to learn about themselves, culture and social justice.
Finally, best wishes from all here at Destination Dreaming for a fantastic summer holiday break and rewarding 2013.

Opportunities to Discover Ancient Australia in Outback NSW

Kate and Clint Miller have just returned from four days journeying through outback Australia. The purpose of this visit was to establish a program for a Tasmanian school, which will connect them with a community in outback NSW and provide an insight into local Aboriginal culture, history, traditions and life in rural Australia. All up, we crossed over 1000 kilometres in just two and a half days- the bulk on red dirt roads.

We were extremely fortunate to travel with Robert Biggs, and local Aboriginal man, Ricky Mitchell. Robert runs the Mungo Youth Project and Ricky is a Community Projects Coordinator for the World Heritage listed Mungo National Park.

Arriving to hot, dry weather in Mildura, we headed straight out to Mungo to learn about the ancient Aboriginal history of the region. This also provided a great opportunity to consider student accommodation- in a selection of converted shearers’ quarters.

The next morning we were up early to explore significant indigenous sites at Mungo, before heading to Menindee. We arrived in time to attend the local school assembly welcoming the Governor of NSW, before settling into accommodation in a renovated train carriage.

We were lucky to be invited to join an evening of celebration at Menindee also attended by the Governor, and the production of ‘Weeping Cloud’. ‘Weeping Cloud’ tells the story of a local Menindee elder who was part of the Stolen Generation. It was beautifully performed by students and staff of Menindee Central, who were joined by members of the local community in the choir. Read more

Melbourne High Students Return Home from the Territory with New Perspectives

During the September 2012 holiday break, 20 Year 10 Melbourne High School boys connected with the rural communities of Jabiru and Gunbalanya in the Northern Territory. This was the second consecutive visit for Melbourne High School to the West Arnhem communities.

The focus this year was on stepping up the engagement and further developing the relationship between the two schools and communities. The boys were so excited at Tullamarine Airport before their flight. Heading up to the Top End to experience firsthand life in a rural community and meet with Indigenous students their own age was an adventure just thinking about it…

Most of the Melbourne boys had never been to the Top End or even met an Aboriginal person before. Reflecting on his expectations before the program, 16-year old Sam said: ‘[b]efore the program my perception of Aboriginal people was that they all lived in the wild and still speared their food. But since having experienced this program, I now have a small insight in to how amazing and skilled Aboriginal people have to be to live in two vastly different cultures and try to respect both.’

The group had an amazing mix of ethnic backgrounds including: Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Indian, Sri Lankan, European and Northern American, which made the program even more special as we were literally bringing the world to rural Australia.
The boys spent the first couple of days acclimatising to the warm weather and doing some field trips on country to get familiar with their new environment. They visited Jim Jim and Twin Falls, and enjoyed an activity of silence on Ubirr Rock aiming to connect to the land.

After this induction to the environment, it was time for the boys to meet the people. On Monday they were invited into the classrooms of the Jabiru campus to work with their peers. This included maths, science, sports, music and culture. The boys cooked a BBQ for the Culture First program, which was greatly appreciated and followed immediately by another game of AFL and basketball.

Over the week, the Melbourne High boys grew very close with the local Aboriginal boys and quickly realised just how much they all had in common. One 15-year old Chinese-Australian student, Roy, said ‘I just meet this guy Junior [a local Aboriginal student] and when we went to shake hands we automatically did the same hand shake, then we talked and realised we love the same music and DJ, we both love dancing, the same football team…how can a Chinese kid from Melbourne have so much in common with an Aboriginal kid from Jabiru? This is amazing…I love Junior.’

After the week in the school, the boys then visited Gunbalanya and released a 6-foot crocodile into Cahill’s Crossing. The time in Gunbalanya was amazing as they experienced the Culture First week, learning all about bush tucker, culture and the local language. The boys tasted turtle, magpie geese and buffalo, as well as learning about spear throwing and traditional cooking methods.

The program concluded with a 12km bush walk, led by a traditional Aboriginal man who is a custodian of the land we walked. It was hot, hilly and challenging for the boys, but they never gave up, remained positive and grew from the experience.

For many of the boys the highlight of the program was the reflection session we did on Darwin waterfront in preparation for our return to Melbourne. Their insights were amazing and showed that they truly understood the experience and education behind the program. Young people never cease to amaze us at Destination Dreaming and this group was no exception.

Thank you to all the parents from Melbourne High School that supported their son to be a part of this program. It was a privilege to have worked with them and you would have been very proud of them.