Covid 19 Update from our partners

COVID 19 – An Update from Our Partners

How Our Partners are Dealing with the Global Covid 19 Pandemic – 

As the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic the global community is feeling as vulnerable as ever. Many of us are facing various challenges due to the pandemic’s far-reaching implications. At Development Together we think it is important to stay in touch with one another, spread positivity and check in on those you care about; especially during this time of social distancing.

Given our current inability to directly serve our not-for-profit partners in the developing world, we thought we’d get in touch with them to extend our thoughts and let them know we are thinking of them. Our partners were really happy to hear from us and most have provided an update on how they are dealing with the Global Pandemic.

Empowering Cambodia

The Cambodian community development organisation, Empowering Cambodia, spent the month of March conducting a series of training sessions in accordance with Cambodian social distancing and public gathering rules and regulations. Their Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training was adapted to introduce Covid-19 prevention training as a priority.

As the poor seem to be some of the most hard hit during this time with limited access to personal protective wear, Cambodians have been encouraged to wear the traditional Kroma scarf as a form of protection. To ensure the safety and health of local families Empowering Cambodia have also distributed soaps and pictorial brochures to assist in good hygiene practices.

Empowering Cambodia_Covid 19 Education sessionCambodian Wear Kroma as They are Taught Good Health Practices in Small Groups
(Source: Empowering Cambodia Facebook)

Stitches of Hope

On a positive note the Cambodian people within the Stitches of Hope Community seem to be in good spirits. The organisation that aims to bring hope and aid to the poor in Cambodia reports that for children being supported in group homes, their teachers, carers and students are continuing with school studies at a reasonable distance from one another, with some even having the opportunity to learn how to cook.

Stitches of Hope_family in isolation Covid 19Learning how to make mango jam and preserves.
(Source: Stitches of Hope Facebook)

The Perth based Director of Stitches of Hope also informs us that she was able to deliver sleeping bags, made by local Cambodian women, for the homeless in Western Australia. Local women in Cambodia are employed to sew sleeping bags, they are then shipped to Australia where each sleeping bag is paid for by a donor and distributed to the homeless. Stitches of Hope are trusting that the generosity of those who are able will keep this program going during these uncertain times.

Stitches of Hope_sleeping bag projectThe Director of Stitches of Hope, Ms Kay Eva, delivering sleeping bags to the homeless in Perth, WA
(Source: Kay Eva Facebook)

Foxglove Project

Foxglove Project is an Australian charity working to eradicate poverty in the developing world by empowering women and girls to change their own lives. Kelly Chisholm, the founder, has been encouraging her social media audiences to “Support a Woman”. The proceeds raised from this campaign will help support women in India and Rwanda who already have established micro-financing businesses in place.

In Rwanda, fundraising from this appeal will help local woman to come through this period with their homes and micro businesses intact and to utilise their networks via the Self Help groups they are involved with to quickly disseminate health, hygiene and safe family practice training to local women. In India funds will go towards providing families in lock down in the slums with dry food and basic necessities.

Foxglove Project_Covid 19 Fundraising AppealFoxglove Project Covid 19 Fundraising Appeal 
(Source: Foxglove Project Facebook)

Shanghai Gold Apple Bilingual School

Our partners in Shanghai, China at the Gold Apple Bilingual School have had a difficult time over the last few months. From early in January they established an Epidemic Prevention and Control Team to protect the students and teachers. Very quickly the Chinese government closed all schools and restricted travel and school pupils had their classes delivered online. For both students and teachers this has been a steep learning curve.

The school has provided students with learning materials and learning suggestions, is conducting mental health counselling, and is encouraging students to engage in appropriate sports and housework, whilst also completing their daily school work. As things begin to return to normal in Shanghai both staff and pupils are looking forward to getting back into their usual school routines once more.

Students Getting Back to Learning

Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay

India has entered a period of strict lock down. For the staff and residents at Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay this has meant staying at home at all times, cancelling all extra-curricular activities and a restriction on their teachers coming into the home to work with them. Many of their plans have been brought to a halt, some teachers are giving classes online while non-essential staff work from home where they can. Dr. Harrison and a few other essential staff are currently living with the residents of the organisation and overseeing daily duties and tasks.

Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevai_Covid 19_Working from homeSchool Lesson via WhatsApp for Girls Living with Cerebral Palsy
(Image Courtesy Shisur Sevay March 2020)

The model inclusive home for orphan girls, both abled and with disabilities, share their view on how they are coping during lock down:

“India is on total lock down until 15 April…I am amazed at how the girls have risen to the challenge of this pandemic. They continue to be independent, cheerful, competent, and funny as they take incredible care of themselves and each other.” – Dr. Michelle Harrison

Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevai_Covid 19_Working from home 2Online Communication Session for Girls Living with Cerebral Palsy
(Image Courtesy Shisur Sevay March 2020)

Although they face their own challenges, the organisation has shown selfless love and care for others with their recent decision to donate half of their food budget to feed the poor.

“ Our girls’ origins are among the extremely underprivileged. We taught them that these were the foundations on which to gain strength and grow. Today they asked how we can help the poor and hungry during lock down. We all decided to cut our food budget while still staying healthy. The money saved goes to a program feeding the hungry.” – Dr. Michelle Harrison


Bali Appropriate Technology Institute

Despite the Corona virus disruptions in the country our partner organisation, Bali Appropriate Technology Institute in Indonesia are continuing their sustainable engineering projects via video chat with the Director Mr Rus Alit who is currently based in Perth Australia. Rus shares his thoughts on their current situation:

“The project to build a water tank in the village of Kendampal in Datah continues. A 20,000 litre water tank is in the making. Under BATI’s direction by video call, the water tank is well underway toward completion.” – Rus Alit

An update from BATI regarding the water filter’s that our Engineering interns helped to design and construct in January 2020 was provided and it was found that they are functioning well and much appreciated by the locals. With the ability to store and provide clean water, the village is able to utilise the water filter’s to sustain a basic standard of hygiene during this tough time. BATI staff look forward to when they’ll be able to visit the site to conduct further work in the area.


BATI Working on Underground Water Tank in Datah Village
(Image Courtesy Rus Alit March 2020)

Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries

On January 28th the Mother Care Academy, a brand new Junior school in Busia Uganda, was opened by our partners Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries, Uganda (SHIMU). The students were only just beginning to adjust to a normal schooling routine and enjoying being able to attend a school that was conducted indoors, with tables and some stationery supplies available to them. As the impact of Covid 19 heightens in Uganda these students have now all been asked to stay at home and their lessons have been discontinued. Very few families have access to the internet or even own a computer so the idea of online class delivery will not be happening. Most children will not be receiving any schooling during this stage and will be helping their parents in the fields to make ends meet.

Given the current circumstances SHIMU still continues to give a voice to the hopeless urging those to support the vulnerable during this difficult time.

“A lot is still needed at this new school ranging from cementing the floors of the classrooms, buying chairs and tables for teachers, buying ridges for the roofs, fencing the school to buying uniforms for children. We can’t give up on supporting these vulnerable.” – SHIMU

In addition to this the impact of the pandemic on SHIM is immense as 65% of the organisation’s income source from selling vegetables, bananas and pigs has been slashed due to market shutdowns in the area. This is especially devastating on the work they do, as their farm income was used to fund their new school, run Micro-Economic Development Activities, and conduct Sexual Health and Reproduction Education for local villagers.

As the virus reaches into rural Uganda prices for basic goods, sanitary items and building materials have risen rapidly. This poses a risk to the livelihoods of many living in the area as food and essential items become harder to obtain. In SHIM’s most recent Facebook post the organisation expresses their commitment to sustaining their children and staff’s basic needs for as long as possible.

“We’re committed to keeping the children fed, and safe. We are also at pains to keep supporting our incredible SHIM UGANDA workforce – nearly 10 teachers, 5 project managers and other support staff. With no safety net for them, we are fighting to secure their futures, as well as the welfare of our kids.” – SHIMU

Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries Uganda_Mothercare SchoolMother of Care Academy Students on the 4th day of Term 1
(Image Courtesy SHIMU January 31st 2020)

Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre

Our partners at the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv Ukraine are being especially vigilant about preventing the spread of Covid 19. Many of the children and adults who utilise this facility are at high risk of becoming critically ill if they catch this disease due to their physical disabilities.

Under the direction of the local government, the centre will remain closed until April 24th, so staff have been providing tips and advice via their social media channels to local families looking after their children at home. Tips include advice on Covid 19 symptoms, along with advice on regular hand washing, disinfecting surfaces and spending time outside to get fresh air.

Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre_Covid 19 PosterCovid 19 Symptoms Poster
(Source: Dzherelo Facebook)

Staff from Dzherelo have also been encouraging families of clients to seek out alternate ways to communicate with their loved ones whilst under lock down at home. Families have been encouraged to help their child at home by accessing specific therapy websites, online stories, reading together, looking at photos together and reinforcing positive behaviors. In this way, families are now able to assist in the delivery of therapy sessions which are being conducted on-line if the family has a computer and internet access at home.

Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre_Communication ToolsAlternate Communication Tools

Centre for Sustainable Development Studies

The Vietnamese government has enforced very strict restrictions to control the spread of Covid 19 which have led to the suspension of all of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies activities. The staff at CSDS are working hard in the office and at home to take the time to prepare for further activities when the work is back to normal. One area they are working on is through their social media posts aimed at encouraging local people to hand wash.

Centre for Sustainable Development Studies_Covid 19 Handwashing PosterCSDS Hand Washing Poster
(Source: CSDS VN Facebook)

They have also been conducting a survey on the impact and needs of children and teens affected by Covid 19 with the survey results being used to inform the Government and UN agencies on how to best support children and teens during this time. Hopefully with this understanding CSDS will be able to create effective activities in the future that enhance children and teens outcomes.

Centre for Sustainable Development Studies_Working from HomeCSDS Staff working on activities from home
(Source: CSDS VN Facebook)

How You Can Get Involved

We hope that you have enjoyed catching up on the latest news from our partners. At this stage we are planning to run our end of year placements, but of course we will continue to be guided by advice from the WHO, CDC, DAFT and the Australian Government and we will closely follow their lead on the safety of overseas travel to the regions we operate in. We can’t wait to return to our partner sites and look forward to being able to work with our participants soon!

If you’d like to get in touch with, or support the initiatives of any of our partners mentioned in our blog, follow the links listed below:

Bali Appropriate Technology Institute:
Facebook –
Website – n/a

Centre for Sustainable Development Studies
Facebook –
Website – n/a

Childlife Preserve Shishur Sevay
Facebook –
Website –

Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre
Facebook –
Website –

Empowering Cambodia
Facebook –
Website –

Foxglove Project
Facebook –
Website –
DONATE TO: COVID-19 Rwanda Appeal
DONATE TO: COVID-19 Chennai Appeal

Shanghai Gold Apple Bilingual School
Facebook – n/a
Website –

Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries Uganda
Facebook –
Website – n/a

Stitches of Hope
Facebook –
Website –
DONATE TO: Sleeping Bag Project –


If you would like to get involved in one of our projects in the developing world check out our website at: or

#BeTheChange #MakeADifference

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A Day in the Life of a Development Together Volunteer

In November, Development Together Staff Members, Natasha and Lachlan were on vacation in Bali, Indonesia and they took a day out of their holiday to see what a day in the life of a Development Volunteer might be like. They also got to assess the impact that past volunteers have had on our partner site, the Bali Appropriate Technology Institute (BATI) and the surrounding community in Kelecung.

Selfie of Natasha and Lachlan in Development Together Uniform
Ready to explore!

BATI is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) based in the Tabanan Regency in Bali. Founded by Mr Rus Alit, they seek to create innovative, accessible and cost-effective water collection, filtration and storage systems for drinking, sanitation and irrigation purposes. They have also developed examples of hydro and solar power stations, simple hydraulic ram pumps to move water, generation of bio-fuel from coconut waste and other simple technologies. Examples of these solutions can be found on the grounds of the BATI training facility where people from all over the world, come to participate in a week long Sustainable and Renewable Energies Workshop which Rus runs on a regular basis.

The day started early, when we met our driver and translator, Nathan. Getting to BATI is about a 2 hour drive from Denpasar. On a map, it might not look that far, however Bali traffic is always gridlocked until after you get out of the urban centres. When we arrived at BATI, we were given a tour of the various technologies that they have developed. First off, we were shown the ‘Rus pump’, named after its inventor Rus Alit, which uses water pressure to pump water. Rainwater is collected from the gutters of the buildings on site, is passed through a series of filters and is deposited into the water tanks. These tanks make it easier for communities to collect safe drinking water, and the ‘Rus pump’ makes it a lot easier to access.

Water Tank with a Rus Pump
Water tank with an attached ‘Rus pump’

We were able to have a look at a number of other projects that BATI has worked on, including sand water filters, recycled water showers and pressurised water pumps. We were also shown what looked like a large swimming pool, but it was actually a pool of recycled water that is used to irrigate the entire BATI grounds and keep them looking lush and green all year round!

BATI Irrigation System, Bali
The irrigation system

Running through BATI is a stream which was turned into a small-scale dam. This dam was created in order to produce hydro-electricity to surrounding villages, but also acts as an irrigation system for the surrounding rice fields, which has allowed the rice crops to flourish and provides not only food to the local villagers, and but also a source of income.

After this, we had a traditional Balinese lunch, consisting of local fruits and vegetables, ayam goreng (fried chicken) and a spicy kepapa (coconut) salad. Indonesia is definitely a great place to visit for a food lover. The local cuisine is diverse, cheap and always tasty! Some other Indonesian dishes to try include nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), babi guling, rendang and nasi lemak.

Traditional Indonesian Cuisine, Bali
Our lunch for the day!

After lunch, we visited the Puspaya Homestay, where we got to meet members of the local community, including the namesake – Mr Puspaya! Development Together Volunteers have stayed here in the past while they assisted with constructing an underground water storage tank for a local school. We were lucky enough to visit this school to learn firsthand what the impact of this water tank has had on the students and teachers. Previously, the bathrooms were unsanitary, as there was not sufficient water in the dry season to flush the toilets, or for students to wash their hands. However, the new water tank designed and constructed by Development Together Volunteers allows toilets to be flushed after each use, as well as providing water for them to wash their hands, and this has benefited the entire school community.

FaceTime with locals in Bali, Indonesia
FaceTiming our Perth Office to discuss the incredible changes made by DT volunteers!

Finally, we were able to visit an animal sanctuary run by local resident, Bunda. She takes in unwanted and unwell animals to care for, including over 60 dogs! This sanctuary also doubles as an extracurricular centre where local students can spend some time to help with their schooling.

Classroom in Kelecung, Bali
Extra-curricular classes such as these are run by volunteers, both by locals and tourists alike

After this day was over, we were sad to be leaving, as we had both developed a much greater appreciation for the work that not only Development Together and their volunteers undertake, but also the work undertaken by BATI, and the contribution made by local community members when we are partnering with them. However, we are happy to know that next week Development Together will be sending another team of volunteers to Bali, and they will continue to do so in the years to come. We know that this will contribute to positive community development in the Kelecung Region.

Animal Sanctuary in Tabanan Regency, Bali
Thanks for the memories!

If you would like to get involved in one of our projects in Indonesia, check out our website at: or


cambodia in focus development together

Cambodia in Focus

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a nation located in the Indochina Region of South-East Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. There are approximately 15 million people in Cambodia, with over 97% being Khmer. The Capital and Largest City is Phnom Penh, located in the South. The largest religion in Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by over 90% of the population. Cambodia has a tropical wet and dry climate, with the daily maximum temperature consistently sitting around 32.9 degrees, with an average of 77% humidity. The wet season usually lasts from July until November, with the dry season typically beginning in December and ending in June.

Development Together Health Volunteers in Phnom Penh

Cambodia does have a dark past, as the nation was occupied by the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 to 1978. During this time, approximately one to three million were killed as part of a large-scale genocide against ethnic minorities and ‘professionals’ such as doctors, lawyers and teachers. Whilst this period is now over and Cambodia is safe once again, the influence of this period can still be felt today. Cambodia is a poor and underdeveloped nation, with the second lowest per-capita GDP in South-East Asia.

Cambodia has an emerging tourism industry, partly due to it being the home of Angkor Wat – the world-famous temple located in Siem Reap. This structure is the largest religious monument in the world. However, there is more to Cambodia than just Angkor Wat. It is a large and diverse nation with much to see including Virachey National Park, the Killing Fields, Tuol Seng Genocide Museum, and a number of ancient temples, beaches, markets and caves.

Development Together Engineering Volunteers sharing a meal with local Cambodians at a wedding

1) Siem Reap

Located in the North-West, Siem Reap is a popular resort town and gateway to the Angkor region. Siem Reap has an abundance of colonial and Chinese style architecture. Things to see in Siem Reap include visiting the Cambodian Cultural Centre, the Landmine Museum, the silk farms, the markets and the Chong Kneas Floating Village. However, the main tourist attraction in Siem Reap is Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is increasingly becoming a major worldwide tourist attraction, therefore it is important to be respectful of the locals, the structure and its significance when visiting.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

2) Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Phnom Penh is a bustling hub and is the economic, industrial and cultural centre of Cambodia. There are many things to do in Phnom Penh, including visiting an abundance of museums (including the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum), checking out the large and opulent Royal Palace, shopping at the Central Market, Russian Market and the large shopping malls, and seeing the breathtaking pagodas and temples, such as Tonle Bati.

Central Phnom Penh

3) Kampot

Kampot is located in the South-West and is the 10th largest city in Cambodia. Unlike other Cambodian cities, Kampot has an abundance of French colonial architecture. Kampot is also famous for their high-quality pepper, fish sauce and durians – there is even a giant durian statue in the town centre! Some things do whilst visiting Kampot include visiting the large pepper plantations, visiting the picturesque Bokor National Park, seeing the spiritual Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple and shopping at the night markets.

Beach in Kampot

Cambodia is one of the safest countries for Australians to visit. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises tourists to exercise normal safety precautions as you would in Australia. However as with all travel, visitors should consider their personal safety when out and about, and be vigilant and avoid any protests or demonstrations.

Unlike many neighbours, same-sex activity is legal in Cambodia, making it one of the safest destinations for LGBTIQ+ travellers in Asia. However, public opinion is much more traditional compared to Australia, and PDA should be avoided for both LGBTIQ+ and straight travellers.

Travellers should also be careful about travelling in rural areas, as road conditions are very poor and travelling at night on roads should be avoided due to the high incidence of car and motorbike accidents at this time. Be careful of severe storms and flash flooding during the wet season.

Exercise Normal Safety Precautions whilst in Cambodia

Development Together offers a variety of experiences in Cambodia. We have placements open to Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Science and Urban Planning students and professionals  working alongside a rural not-for-profit community group and village chiefs with a focus on bringing clean water and safe hygiene and sanitation to a small rural school. Volunteer’s work collaboratively, in a small team, alongside local staff to review existing water and sanitation facilities, using a human centred design focus. These placements are run in partnership with Stitches of Hope (NGO) who run a children’s centre for 24 homeless children, two sewing centres that provide employment for 8-10 people in Phnom Penh, a community development centre in the north of the country and, in two poor rural villages, they assist with the provision of care and dignity for those living with HIV/ADIS, and encouraging micro-economic development in farming enterprises.

Development Together Engineering Volunteers

Development Together also offer placements for Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology and Prosthetic & Orthotic students and professionals. Volunteers have the opportunity to work at a large rehabilitation centre for infants, children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities focusing on empowering and enabling their clients to be the best they can be. Clients present with conditions such as; amputations (upper and lower limbs), cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, femoral head necrosis, neurological disorders, spinal injuries, torticollis, and congenital deformities.

Marketing and Physiotherapy Placements are also available, with volunteers matched to work with a small Community Physiotherapy Clinic serving private clients in the capital city Phnom Penh with the proceeds from this clinic going towards the running of the not-for-profit Cambodia Physical therapy Association. Marketing volunteers develop marketing strategies to increase client numbers attending the clinic, and provide education and training to local staff to allow them to apply this knowledge in the future. Physiotherapy volunteers work in partnership with local staff on the diagnosis, planning and treatment for local clients, and provides education and training to local staff.

Development Together Volunteer assists with Prosthetic leg fitting

These placements may be used as university credit, depending on your host university. Students may accrue between 160 to 320 Professional Practicum/Work Experience Hours. Australian Students may be eligible for New Colombo Plan Scholarships and/or OS HELP Funding for up to $8,149.

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting our website at or email


Ukraine in Focus - Development Together

Ukraine in Focus

Ukraine is situated in Eastern Europe and is one of the largest countries in the area in terms of both population and size. The capital of Ukraine is Kyiv (commonly spelt Kiev). Ukrainian is the main language, with Russian also spoken by the majority of the population and mostly used as a ‘business language.’ Depending on where you are in the country, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish are also widely spoken. Whilst English is less commonly spoken, its prevalence is increasing, especially among younger generations. 75% of Ukrainians identify as religious with the majority being Orthodox Christian. In regard to climate, January is the coldest month, with temperatures generally below zero degrees Celsius. July is the warmest month, with temperatures ranging from low to high 20’s (Celsius).

Ukraine is the second poorest nation in Europe in terms of GDP per capita, meaning that living standards are much lower than surrounding countries. This has impacted on the Ukrainian currency (the Hryvnia) which is valued relatively low. This is beneficial for tourists visiting as it makes eating out and sight seeing cheap, but is a challenging reality for the locals. Ukraine has a rich cultural heritage, and is popular for its large collection of art and ornate architecture, and incredible architecture of its churches and public buildings. Ukrainians also have some interesting cultural traditions, such as Maslenitsa week – where people make and eat pancakes for an entire week, painting intricate designs on eggs at Easter and celebrating New Year twice (13 days apart). Ukrainian people are incredibly warm and love to laugh and welcome new visitors.

Kyiv in winter.

Ukraine has many popular tourist cities. Whilst many are relatively unknown in the West, Eastern Europeans have been enjoying Ukraine as an attraction dating back to Soviet times. Below are our picks for the top 3 places you should visit on your Ukrainian adventure.

1) Lviv

Located in the far west, Lviv is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It is Ukraine’s historical centre, and is located 70 kilometres from the Polish border. The city is intertwined with Polish, German, Austro-Hungarian and Soviet influences. World War II left the city largely unscathed, meaning that its plethora of historical buildings can still be admired today. Some major attractions include the Lviv Opera and Ballet, The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Potocki Palace and the Market Square. No matter where you go, there is always something to see and do in Lviv!

Development Together volunteers on a guided city tour of Lviv.

2) Kyiv

The capital of Kyiv is the largest city in Ukraine, and is the most well-known. Kyiv is home to a number of historical monasteries, including St. Sophia and Percherska Lavra, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are many parks, bars and cafes dotted around the city. Kyiv is also said to have the best nightlife in the country! Furthermore, Kyiv is one of the cheapest cities in Europe, making it a fantastic choice for budget conscious travellers. Kyiv has played host to many world-renowned events in recent years, including the UEFA European Championship and UEFA Champions League finals in 2012 and 2018, as well as hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 and 2017.


Kyiv in winter.

3) Odessa

Odessa is a major Ukrainian port city located on the Black Sea. It is one of the warmest cities in Ukraine and is said to have the best beaches in Eastern Europe. However, Odessa isn’t just about the seaside! It was also one of the most important trading centres in the Russian Empire, and its old town is a fantastic sight for tourists. Odessa still has much of the charm of the major cities, having a strong arts culture and plenty of architectural marvels! Don’t forget to check out the Odessa Opera House, one of the largest in the world.

Odessa is famous for its beaches.

When people talk about Ukraine, many will automatically think of the current war against Russian-backed separatists. However, Ukraine is a very large country, and the central and western regions (where Development Together volunteers stay) remain safe areas with no conflict zones. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has assigned Western Ukraine the same level of safety as countries such as France and Belgium, but does urge travellers not to visit the Eastern regions of Ukraine (especially Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk as these are active conflict zones).

The large cities such as Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk in the Western regions of Ukraine are regarded as safe, and generally have low levels of crime. Visitors to the Western regions will be unlikely to come across any major problems. However as with all travel, visitors should consider their personal safety when out and about, and be vigilant and avoid any protests or demonstrations.

Development Together volunteers walking at night in central Lviv in the snow in January.

Development Together currently offers placements at the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv. These placements are open to Education, Dietetics, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology university/college students or professionals with experience in these fields. They range from 2 to 4 weeks and our small groups (of less than 12 people) are accompanied by a professional Australian Speech Pathologist to provide support and guidance.

Development Together Education/Teaching volunteer working with a child with a disability at Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre.

Dzherelo is a Rehabilitation Centre committed to treating, rehabilitating, educating and counselling children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities and their families. Dzherelo was opened in 1993 and since then, they have become pioneers in this field in Ukraine where they now look after close to 200 children and adults as part of their daily programs, with an aim to extend its services to some 2,000 disabled children in the surrounding area. Ukraine has amongst the highest rates of disabled people in the world, yet only 4% of buildings are ‘disability-friendly.’ Furthermore, disabled people receive very little government funding. Development Together volunteers visit twice a year and are able to aid in assisting local staff to deliver their services by working directly with clients and their families, and also providing education sessions on current therapy practices outside of Ukraine with local staff to contribute to their professional development.

Development Together Speech Pathology student volunteer working with a child with disability at Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre.

To find out more, visit

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting our website at or email


development together volunteers

You Can Make a Difference

According to the World Health Organisation, each person needs 20-50 litres of water per day for their hygiene and hydration needs. Most of us make no more effort than walking to our tap in our kitchen, turning it on and filling up a glass of water. However according to UN Human Rights, women and girls in the developing world walk an average of 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) every day to collect water for their daily needs. Apart from taking on average 2-3 hours per day, it also has an enormous physical impact on them. Additionally, it creates many issues that you may not think about at first. For instance, women and girls often have to walk alone to get to a water source and this puts them at risk of sexual assault or robbery. It also means that for many girls, they are unable to attend school as collecting water takes priority for their them and their families.

Woman in Uganda collecting water for daily needs

You may sympathise with them, but think that there is not much that you can do. However, you can get involved by joining us here at Development Together as we partner with local communities in the developing world on sustainable community development projects. We specifically work with partners who aim to increase ease of access to water sources and develop clean water filtration systems that can easily be used in local homes and villages with the result being more girls can stay in school and risks to women and young girls are decreased.

For example, in December 2018 a team of Development Together Engineering interns designed and built an 18,000-litre underground water tank in Uganda to help improve access to water for a local farm. Our interns also assisted with constructing a new water well on the farm to provide easier and closer access to water for the local villagers. This farm is run as a Not-For-Profit entity, with all income being returned to local community development projects focused on Keeping Girls in School, encouraging micro-economic development projects for local women, providing education about sexual health, reproduction and family planning and encouraging good farming practices to enhance agricultural outcomes. These two projects significantly decreased the need for women and girls to walk long distances and spend time collecting  water, substantially lowering the risk of being alone, decreasing their heavy physical workload and giving girls back precious time to spend on their education.

New water well is used now to collect the water

In addition to the water projects our team of Engineering interns constructed a new piggery, refurbished an already existing chicken house and proposed a design of water filter that could be easily replicated by locals to assure they have access to clean drinking water. This was all done in an 8-week time frame.

The piggery built by Development Together volunteers in collaboration with locals
The completed underground water storage tank with easy access to the water via a Rus pump
Development Together volunteers working alongside locals

These projects were really quite simple, but will bring about significant environmental, economic and social change, not only in the lives of those working on the farm, but also for the locals in the nearby villages. We have supported small group Engineering, Environment, Urban Planning and Architecture internships running to Cambodia, Indonesia, Uganda and Vietnam this coming December 2020 and January and February 2020 for between 4 and 8 weeks. If you feel like you would want to be a part of such a life-changing project contact us today at

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting our website at or email


development together india health volunteers

The Amazing Technology Behind Speech Therapy Training in India

Everybody deserves to have a voice. It’s a basic human right that should be available to everyone regardless of their background or physical ability. It’s something we can take for granted without even a second thought. Unfortunately, there are a number of conditions that can arise, whether from birth or otherwise, that limit a person’s ability to speak. Some of these conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can also limit a person’s ability to move their hands, making it difficult for common speech solutions such as sign language to be a viable option.

Cerebral palsy, for example, affects between 1.5 to 4 per 1000 child births, according to studies around the world. Thankfully there are technologies available that aim to give those with speech impediments the ability to speak with minimal effort.

Enter Tobii, a company that produces eye-tracking technology that uses both hardware and software to allow anyone with a speech impediment to communicate quickly and effectively.  Eye-tracking technology allows a person to control a computer using only their eyes – they can do anything from browsing the web to even playing complex video games such as Assassin’s Creed (which was the original purpose of the Tobii company).

The speech therapy software that Tobii has created, Dynavox, presents an easy to use, structured interface of words and actions to choose from. Its layout is also purposefully designed to not only give the user a voice, but to make learning how to structure sentences and communicate effectively simple. Eye-tracking technology makes this possible by observing what icon the user is looking at, pronouncing the word(s) and adding them to a speech box which, when activated, reads the completed sentence out loud. No other input is required from the user.

Tobii Dynavox Speech Therapy software - Development Together
The Tobii Dynavox speech therapy software at a glance. (Photo courtesy of Tobii).


This all sounds great, but there still exists a need for someone to bridge the gap between the production line and the end user, those who are truly in need of aid. The technology can also be quite expensive and out of reach for many, particularly for those in developing countries such as India. Should this kind of assistance be unattainable for someone simply because they can’t afford it? Of course not.

That’s where organisations such as Shishur Sevay and the ideal of inclusive education come in. Shishur Sevay, based in Kolkata, India, was founded by Dr. Michelle Harrison, and houses 15 “un-adoptable” girls who were otherwise destined for a poor existence. Two of the girls have cerebral palsy, with no way to communicate. This prompted Dr. Harrison to seek out a solution, a search which led her to the Tobii Dynavox product. But she needed an expert to help implement the software and incorporate it into a more comprehensive speech therapy program at the school.

Development Together was introduced to Dr. Harrison via Ms. Nicky Hurwitz, a Speech Pathologist from Perth, Western Australia, who was a supervisor for a group of health science students sent to India by the Curtin University and their Go Global program. Shortly after, Development Together forged a partnership with Shishur Sevay. Soon after that Ms. Emily Goulet, a Canadian speech therapist with extensive training in the Dynavox software, offered to volunteer her time and expertise with the children at Shishur Sevay. The experience was a resounding success, garnering the attention and support of the local community.


Speech Therapy - India - Volunteering - Development Together
         Emily Goulet using Tobii Dyanvox to aid speech therapy with students at Shishur Sevay.


Development Together aims to send at least four professional or university student participants to Shishur Sevay for volunteer/work experience every year: a marketing volunteer to help with fundraising and public awareness; a teaching/education volunteer to assist with classroom education and local teacher up-skilling; a speech pathologist/therapist volunteer to assist with speech therapy and Dynavox training for local staff; and a business/commerce volunteer to help with clerical duties, generating reports and up-skilling local staff. Check out our destination page to see how you can get involved with this amazing training program!

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting our website at or email



Images courtesy of Ms Michelle Harrison and Ms Emily Goulet. Copyright 2018.

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7 Innovative Travelling Items That Will Get You Excited About Packing

Packing is a notoriously frustrating affair and is often put off until the last minute (we’ve all done it), making it even more stressful. The choice on what to take and what not to take can leave you with a small case of choice paralysis. However, we’ve found some awesome little gadgets to take travelling that will make you look forward to that stressful affair.

The HoverGlide

A backpack that literally lightens the load? Sounds like magic. The technology behind this bag uses a rail system that keeps it at the same height as you move, which means you’re not lifting the bag up and down. This can reduce the impact on your body by up to 86 percent, while lightening the load of your luggage by up to 20 percent.

They won’t be released until next year but it’s a good time to get in early while they’re heavily discounted.


Photo courtesy of HoverGlide.


Quicksand Mat

This handy mat will make it a lot less sandy when you’re trying to relax at the beach. Using “multi weave technology”, the mat ensures sand falls right through and becomes trapped underneath. You’ll never need to worry about sand towels again!


Photo courtesy of QuickSand Mat.

JBL Clip 3

Music is a great companion for any trip, and arguably one of the most important parts for some. Thankfully these days there’s tons of options on portable listening, and Bluetooth speakers are more affordable than ever. The JBL Clip 3 is very tiny and light without compromising too much sound quality, water-proof, and can be clipped to your backpack for those hiking adventures too.

Photo courtesy of JBL.


Self-proclaimed as the world’s most powerful portable blender, the BlendJet is a portable, rechargeable battery-powered blender that’s perfect for making smoothies on the go. It may not be as powerful as a fully-fledged counter-top blender, but for the busy traveler it has its uses.


Photo courtesy of BlendJet.

Scrubba Wash Bag

An ultra-light portable washing device in bag form that claims to wash clothes, using minimal water and effort, in just 3 minutes! The ultimate dream for those long trips where you have limited access to washing facilities, and of course limited storage space for clean clothes.


Photo courtesy of Amazon.



GRAYL Water Purifier Bottle

Water is of course the most vital element for human survival, so it is essential that we have a clean supply of it at all times. The creators behind this bottle claim that it can purify water from any fresh water source in 15 seconds, just in case you’re ever stranded in a situation where you can’t afford to be overly fussy where you get your water from. It would be a handy travelling tool to have in your arsenal regardless!

Bonus Mention: The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Photo courtesy of GRAYL.

PowerPort Solar 2

For when you need power on the go, the PowerPort Solar 2 is a super light weight and durable solar powered charger for mobile devices, capable of charging two devices at once. It can even be attached to the back of your bag to charge devices while you’re out hiking! It’s also weather resistant, perfect for the more strenuous trips. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure it gets enough sunlight.


Photo courtesy of Anker.

Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting our website at or email