Australian Volunteers program in Kiribati

Case study: Ann Clark, making a difference for visually impaired people in Kiribati

Ann Clark (left) conducting a braille session with Ms Teuritaake Angitio at the Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Special Needs. Photo: Aretitea Teeta / Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ann Clark became motived to pursue a career helping the visually impaired after watching blind students play the violin in 1989. Twenty-two years later, Ann became an Australian Volunteer for International Development in Kiribati.

‘While I was passionate about my work in Australia—with over ten years’ experience teaching for the blind and visually impaired—Kiribati presented new challenges and opportunities to use my skills.’

The teachers and students find Ann’s enthusiasm an enjoyable addition to the school.

‘It’s a blessing for us to have Ann. We are able to deliver our lessons not only quicker but in a whole range of different ways,’ said Marebu Tarawakatoa, a teacher at the School and Centre for Children with Special Needs.

For someone who’s grown up and lived in Sydney most of her life, Ann has learned to think outside the box to make life interesting.

‘Most of the teaching aids are outdated and we have to be creative in modifying them and hopefully the training will make teachers’ work a lot easier,’ Ann added.

Through Ann’s work, the school now has a new computer that translates and prints story books and English and math lessons with a braille embosser.

She also translates articles from the weekly newspaper into braille for the students to read.

Ann arrived for a year in Kiribati, teaching at the School and Centre for Children with Special Needs in 2011, and returned again in 2013.

‘I felt there was a lot unfinished business. I wanted to do more with the teachers—that’s why I came back,’ Ann said.

Case study: Ernie Wang, supporting Kiribati nursing staff to save lives

Left to right: Ernest Wang, Azusa Yamaguchi (JICA Nurse volunteer) and Rouea Burebure (patient). Photo: Aretitea Teeta / Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ernest Wang, also known as Ernie, started working as an Emergency Nurse Educator at Kiribati’s Tungaru Central Hospital in July 2013.

As a qualified nurse, Ernie has seven years’ experience in Australia, the United Kingdom and Malaysia. However, Ernie still faced new experiences as an Australian Volunteer for International Development.

‘Being able to work in different places is something that I always look forward to,’ Ernie said.

‘I’ve found the nature of the work similar in the three different countries I’ve worked in—the systems and procedures are standard, the materials and resources are there and everything’s pretty convenient—but Kiribati presented new challenges,’ said Ernie.

In addition to his usual nursing duties, Ernie is also training the emergency nurses in patient assessment skills and developing triage protocols for the emergency nurses—something he never expected to do when he first arrived.

‘I have only been on the job for two months and I have seen the change in the nurses. They are able to handle their patients in a more professional manner,’ said Ernie.

The qualities of a good nurse remain consistent across the Pacific—and hopefully Ernie will take new skills back home.

‘Ernie is an unflappable ocean of calm professionalism, which is very reassuring during stressful times,’ said Mark Haddaway, whose child was a patient at Tungaru Central Hospital.

‘My time in Kiribati has also taught me a great deal about myself and how to be creative when tackling new challenges,’ said Ernie.

How to apply

More information, including applicant eligibility criteria can be found on the Australian Volunteers website


Last Updated: 3 April 2018