Bishops look to new phase of Catholic volunteering in Pacific

22 Jun 2016 | JUSTICE

From carpenters rebuilding schools in Solomon Islands to nurses helping manage community clinics in Tonga, Catholic volunteers have been making an important contribution to development projects around the Pacific for decades.

Formerly called Mahitahi “Working Together”, New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have renamed the programme Catholic Volunteers Overseas and given it a broader scope.

Following the New Zealand Catholic Bishop Conference’s consultation with the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO), direction has also been given to Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand’s Board and staff for the future of Catholic volunteering overseas.

“It is a new phase for the programme, which follows on from the integration of Mahitahi into Caritas in 2013, and includes offering placements that are either short-term for a few months, or long-term for a year or two in a wider selection of countries, “ said Bishop Patrick Dunn, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

“It builds on the legacy of contribution and cooperation in the Pacific over decades and we hope that we can continue to support meaningful and sustainable development in the Pacific,” Bishop Dunn said.

“The overseas volunteer programme will now be overseen by Caritas’ International Programmes team, who have well-developed relationships with existing partners across the region and will work closely with partners and volunteers to ensure the programme continues to focus on building local and organisational capacity,” he said.

Current opportunities that have been identified by Caritas’ partners include placements in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea for volunteers skilled in ESOL, trades such as carpentry, IT, administration and finance.

Those that are interested in becoming a volunteer overseas in the future can contact Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand on volunteers@caritas.org.nz or by calling 0800 22 10 22 during office hours.