THIS IS OUR FINAL CHRISTMAS  – OUR LAST FESTIVE SEASON  

 THE SHOP IS NOW OPEN

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Buy signed copies of the new edition cover of Accidental Aid Worker and pair it with beautiful candles and cards for the perfect Christmas gift. Send directly to your friends around Australia or overseas! Visit the shop for more details and to order

C4C 2016

Candle making schedule:

  • Commencement: 1 November 2016
  • Last orders: COB 9 December 2016
  • Last dispatch: 15 December 2016 (via Australia Post)

Freshly made candles will be dispatched  3-5 days after your order and payment is received. 3.5% will be added to your total for credit card transactions.

Who are we supporting in 2016

Funds raised from Candles for Community 2016 and Accidental Aid Worker 2016 will be contributed to projects that help children and young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cambodia.

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1 November 2015 – a year ago today, I launched my first born book, Accidental Aid Worker, at my home, with friends. What a year it has been!

These past 12 months, I have committed myself to getting me and my story out to the world. Being self published, self employed (and not earning as a consultant), a solo woman and without a team or support. I have invested as much as I can of myself to this enormous, complex and worthy story. YES, I believe my story, experiences and messages are worthy and of value to humanity. I believe that they are important, have integrity, heart and are worthy of sharing in this way.

It has not been easy. Far, far from easy.

There have been many dips in the road and shitty happenings along the way. This has been a cleanser of a year. I have done what I wanted to do – make changes that stick. I have really sorted out where I am and who I’m with in the world moving forward. I have FOUND my voice, gained clarity and made a new commitment to my values, hold those values dear, and with absolute integrity.

To explore what it means to write and publish – I sacrificed a lot too, investing creativity, effort, drive, money and energy to:

WAS THE EFFORT WORTH IT? Will I continue to write and publish and where to from here?

One step at a time, and only time will tell. My most urgent need is to get back to the work that earns me a living as a business, marketing and communications consultant – the Chiefette of Zulu Communications and start the final season for Candles for Community – Christmas 2016 Campaign.

Accidental Aid Worker has been a blessing in my life and I hope it will continue to be embraced, educate, inspire, amuse and give people pause to consider “who am I, where am I going and what can I do?”

This is a real and raw story about taking on life with the spirit of adventure, striving to maintain integrity in the face of loss and adversity and the power of connection and community.

GIVING BACK TO COMMUNITY IN EVERYTHING I DO

When you purchase your copy of Accidental Aid Worker directly from me, you’ll receive a personalised, signed copy of the 3rd reprint edition of Accidental Aid Worker that features Tom Keneally and Professor Dame Marie Bashir’s comments on the cover. It comes with a complimentary gift card, bookmark and numbered puzzle token. $5 will be donated to a community project.

Purchase online here at the shop

To those who have read my story: Thank you for taking the time to read, for prioritising this in your busy lives. It means a hell of a lot to me. Thank you to so many of you who have stood close and not let me fall, particularly in these last 12 months since making my life so public. It’s a test of your character as well, to stand in the eye of the storm with me. I celebrate you – and your courage to do so.

Well this is interesting.

This morning I decided to Facebook live my interview with ABC South East NSW.

Here’s the Facebook live video – watch it on Facebook 

abc-se-12-oct

On the flip side – here is the radio interview!


I have to say – even I found this hilarious!

 

ENJOY.

 

Sue x

8-9 October  – Rosehill Racecourse – 9-4pm

I’ll be at Book Expo Australia – with lots goodies at my first public ‘bookish’ event as an author!
 I’m sharing a space with fellow author, Gabriella Kovac on stall S34 ( 3 stalls along from the bookshop!)

 Keep your eyes out for this poster – and  me of course!!

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Book Expo Australia is afacebook-profile-logo dedicated event for national and international publishers and authors to meet and interact with avid book lovers held at The Pavilion, Rosehill Racecourse, James Ruse Drive, Rosehill.

Find out more about the expo, speakers and what’s on at www.bookexpo.com.au

batch_aaw3-book-quotes-squareA few months shy of celebrating the 1st birthday of the release of my book, Accidental Aid Worker, was another occasion to celebrate.

Legendary Australian author, Tom Keneally, and celebrated community advocate and former NSW Governor General, Professor Dame Marie Bashir both provided heartfelt words for me about my precious book. These worlds grace the cover of  the new edition of Accidental Aid Worker, which is now at 3rd reprint.

Professor Bashir kindly launched the edition at an author talk at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts on 20 September, 2016.  In the company of a community of supporters and  70 keen readers, she spoke about her own experiences in Cambodia, and the power of connection and community, before providing her reflections about my story.

This is the video of the introduction and speech by Professor Bashir.

Part of my brain doesn’t compute that this happened. I’m thankful for the photographic evidence and  that their words are immortalised in ink on my new cover. As you can see above, Tom also signed my copy of my book.

Today is R U OK? day.

SL13042Actually – I am not OK. I haven’t been OK for a while in my internal world.  Right now, I’m having a pretty confronting time of life and struggling a bit to hold it all together. So, this morning, if you ventured to ask me R U OK? I would probably answer truthfully “actually, no” to friends or people who I know well enough. To strangers – it just wouldn’t come up. Or would it?

See, for someone like me, who just published a very raw and revealing book detailing the internal workings of…everything; this territory is a bit challenging. Up until now (10 months after publication of Accidental Aid Worker) – I have somehow avoided speaking publicly about: my mental health and living/coping/functioning with prolonged grief, extreme anxiety and chronic depression.

I refer to in my book blurb and media releases, but up until now (apart from divulging it in my book for those who choose to read it), it hasn’t specifically been a point of interest in interviews… until now.  In a recent ABC Radio interview, I danced around the topic. I didn’t think it was what people wanted to hear. To be honest, I was surprised I actually had a conversation ‘live to air’ that had anything to do with my struggles.  I’ve stayed away from this in my author talks – because there are so many other things to talk about, and I actually don’t know how to talk mental health and give it the space it deserves, in that context.

Some say my story is raw, real, brutally honest and full of unspoken words. It’s a mirror or an echo of their own struggles. Feedback I receive from readers (friends and strangers) is that many can relate to my life experiences in dealing (or not dealing) with loss and grief and where holding onto stories, pain and emotions can often manifest: breakdown, mental illness, addictions, depression, suicidal thoughts, crippling anxiety and insecurity.  It’s a level of un-wellness that knocked this high-functioning coper into more than two years of mental breakdown – often disguised as manic creativity, over-enthusiasm, hyper-achievement, busyness, over-giving, volunteering and hyper-activity.

Just this week – I received this feedback from a reader, a new connection. In the spirit of trying to move the conversation about mental health into non-stigmatised dialogue, Annette has allowed me to share her comments publicly.

The conversation we need to have – about mental health

It’s truly an amazing journey in terms of geography and the projects you threw yourself into but, for me, the journey that really resonated was your mental health story.  As someone who has had my own battles with anxiety, I am always so grateful when someone bravely shares their experience and how they have found a way of perhaps not curing themselves, but managing their condition.  I think you are so brave to have detailed that part of your life, and I hope that your story helps to destroy the stigma around mental health issues, and that someday soon it won’t be such a brave act to reveal that part of ourselves; that it will be with the same ease that people talk about other health issues like food allergies or diabetes.

The more I talk to people about mental health, the more I realise we all have some sort of struggle going on.  I often think of Ferris Bueller’s immortal words: “Sooner or later, everyone goes to the zoo!”.  I think we all need to keep talking.Thanks Sue for sharing your story. – Annette

I am choosing today – to start to talk about my mental health.

This topic, is important to me. I reflect Annette’s words into the world today – because…yesterday, was a particularly challenging and tough day for me. I will spare you all the valid and invalid reasons why I ended up on the couch, curled up in a quivering ball of anxious overwhelm, self recrimination, crippling fear and doubt. I tried to nap it off, caffeinate it away, self-talk, rationalise and grind those feelings to submission, so I could feel back in some kind of control until I put myself to sleep last night.

Strangely – it woke me up to the volume of challenges and not- so-straight forward things I’m dealing with in my life, and the timing of it all: September and October. These are my ‘mourning months’ for mum and dad.  I’m here again, preparing for these anniversaries, that are significant markers on my mental/emotional landscape that will not be ignored – despite the buzz of my day-to-day.

I will do my best to buckle in and ride that rollercoaster, as I do every year. The added twist is the not-so-easy public sharing of my deeply, personal story and that of many around me.  The  upside of this – is the knowledge, that by sharing it, and being open about my struggles, I may be helping others navigate through the complex tracks laid down in their own lives.

We live with such dis-ease in our minds and our souls. Some times, we as human beings just cannot deal with the immensity and volume of it all. Today, may be a day – when you can consciously take a step toward seeing your own human struggles – the struggle we all have and share.

We are human – and it’s no sin or crime admit a truth and see our mental realities, or support someone else struggling with theirs. 

Asking R U OK? is actually quite complicated

I know that the intent of this campaign is to actively work toward raising awareness and encouraging a more outward-thinking community of human beings, who are authentically concerned for one another and their mental – emotional wellbeing.

From both sides (askers and those being asked), we (society) are still learning how to respond to this very loaded and difficult question.  In all reality – the answers, are not simple, quick or straight forward to resolve.  As Annette says – it’s the start of a conversation, and often not a light one.

If you are asked R U OK? and you are not comfortable with it – it’s absolutely fine to say: “Thank you for asking and showing concern.” Sometimes, it’s just that someone has asked and has shown that level of awareness and attention that makes all the difference.

If you find, that this question leads you to need more support and longer or deeper conversation, I think it’s helpful to:

  • keep calm, and purposely seek out someone in your ‘space’ who you know has compassion, empathy and time to give you. Sometimes, asking someone who is themselves not in the best space, the right personality or able to assist you, can be quite devastating.
  • talk to your partner or someone who can support you to find a good GP who can assist you with a referral to a trained and qualified mental health professional.
  • in an emergency – call Lifeline 131114

I am OK

Just letting you know. No need to call, thank you. For me, today, I have taken a positive step forward, by writing this post.  This action has given me focus, clarity and purpose to my day and it’s the sort of thing I do to help me to move on and help get myself back to ‘ok’ or better.

Friends are telling me to go easy on myself, rest up and just ride on through the coming months. I think, that’s good advice and essential for me to stay on track.

Sue Liu x 

Listen here to the interview with Tony Arthur from Radio ABC Illawarra – 10:09am on Friday 2 September.

 

 

Listen to other interviews and see media reports here 

With Tom Keneally at SMSA

With Tom Keneally at SMSA

July is ‘the Month of Sue’ – when Sue and Zulu celebrate birthdays.  This year, it included some pretty amazing happenings including: achieving recognition fromTom Keneally, reconnecting with Professor Dame Marie Bashir, attending a wonderful writing workshop in Bali, organising 37 author talks with libraries and communities in NSW (between June and Feb), and Zulu celebrated 15 years in business.

This is the tale of a woman who bravely opens doors and thus has astounding adventures and enlightenments. All in the context of what can only be called an adventure story and an extraordinary life. – Thomas Keneally

 

I continue to work hard in my ‘pioneering’ ways to make a path for myself as a writer, artist and self publisher, and this newsletter includes some of my wins. Come celebrate with me at one of my author talks and work with me in making stronger connections in publishing and community.

The next edition of Accidental Aid Worker will feature the words of an internationally acclaimed author and an Australian treasure. Reviews from Tom Keneally and Professor Dame Marie Bashir will grace new cover of the book, which will be launched by Professor Dame Marie Bashir at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts on 20 September – 12:30pm .

September/ October Author talks

  • Saturday 3 September – Author Talk – 2:30pm at Kiama Library 
  • Wednesday 7 September – Author Talk – 11:00am at Paddington Library 
  • Wednesday 14 September – 10am at Balmain Probus
  • Tuesday 20 September – Talk about – 12:30pm at Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts – NEW EDITION OF BOOK LAUNCHED BY PROFESSOR DAME MARIE BASHIR CVO
  • Monday 10 October – Monday Matters  – 10am at Mosman Library
  • Sunday 30 October – 11am at Sunday Assembly-Sydney

NSW South Coast Tour  13 – 19 October – Nowra to Merimbula

  • Thursday 13 October – 1pm at Nowra Library
  • Friday 14 October – 10:30am at Ulladulla Library
  • Saturday 15 October – 10am at Batemans Bay Community Centre
  • Monday 17 October – 10am at Tura Marrang Library – Merimbula
  • Tuesday 18 October – 10am at Bermagui Library 
    – 2:30pm at Narooma Library
  • Wednesday 19 October -1pm at Moryua Library

See a full list of Sue’s Author Talks here 

 

 

 

Those of you who have read Accidental Aid Worker from cover-to-cover will know about the close bond I have developed with two young women in Cambodia. I have been financially supporting these two individuals since 2006 and 2007 – paying monthly sponsorship fees, which have been contributing to their education, healthcare and life support for almost a decade.

In addition, the numerous fundraising campaigns that I have created, funded and run – events, fundraisers, collections, referrals and business activities (including Candles for Community) have, over 9 years or so, contributed an estimated $100k to the organisation in donations, countless child sponsorships and all important awareness raising.

Personal support – beyond the dollar

My support over the years has always been beyond the dollar. I developed relationships, provided and received mentoring, friendship, love – always with a view of helping these children and others through a tenuous, rocky childhood and into adulthood.

Our connection has grown beyond the confines of a ‘normal’ sponsor-child relationship, to an authentic, devoted, loving union, where the girls call me mum and I consider them daughters.2015-08-14 11.34.56 I have said from the beginning, when these girls were aged 10 and 11, that I wanted to be able to extend my ‘motherly/sisterly/aunty’ support to these individuals and others, as best as I am able and have been very open and public about my commitment to their wellbeing. I have travelled back and forth to Cambodia annually to spend time with them and their many brothers and sisters, to reinforce the importance of my being in their lives for longer than the term of my donation.

These two women will have challenges beyond the norm and the time is coming very soon for them to take the step of entering into Cambodian society as independent young women. They’ll look to me for guidance and support more than ever in the future, and it’s a responsiblity that I take seriously.

In order to keep up my commitment, regardless of the challenges I face in my own life – I aim to factor into my life, business and community dealings, a way to help these two and others.

$5 from every book I sell personally for the remainder of 2016,  will go toward helping my two girls in Cambodia.

Can you guess how many kms?

THE CHALLENGE: Can you guess how many kms Sue will drive on her road trip from Sydney to NSW Riverina, Albury and back to Sydney?Guess the closest kms without going over.

REWARD OPTIONS:  choose one of the following options – value AUD $50

  • receive a signed book – posted anywhere in Australia
  • receive the ebook – and AUD $25 will be contributed to Sue’s girls in Cambodia
  • contribute AUD $50 to Sue’s two girls in Cambodia.

ABOUT THE RIVERINA ROAD TRIP:

TO ENTER:  The competition opens Monday 6 June at 9am and closes on Saturday 11 June at 9am.

  1. Enter your guess via the contact form on this website. Enter your name, valid email address with the words Competition entry in subject line. In the message please include your guess and your mobile number if in Australia.
  2. You are welcome to post your guesses on the OFFICIAL competition facebook post – however valid entries are via the contact form.   
  3. You may enter from anywhere in the world. Please be aware that by entering with your email address will be subscribed to Zulu2you newsletter, which comes out every so often (and not too much).
  4. The winner will be announced on Facebook and notified also by email on Monday 13 June along with the final odometer reading as verification.
  5. The prize options are not redeemable for cash.

This competition is being run by Sue Liu from Zulu Communications Pty Ltd as a promotion for Sue’s book Accidental Aid Worker. Contributions to the girls in Cambodia are a direct and personal arrangement and not via any other organisation.

If you have any questions about this competition – please send Sue a message via the contact form.

Thanks for playing and following the road trip to the Riverina!

The reality is for most people who choose writing and publishing as their career path, it seems, that it leads to success for very few. Of course, each person has their own definition and markers of success, which includes the usual goals; actual publication, a publishing contract, sales on all platforms, readership, favourable reviews and the ultimate nod – inclusion as someone of worth and note in writing festivals.

The key takeaway for me from the two of the three events I attended during Sydney Writers’ Festival 2016 this past week (Being a Writer in the 21st Century – Woollahra Council and Forest For The Trees – NSW Writers’ Centre) is this:

It’s bloody hard to make a living wage and sustain income in a writing and publishing career – even for the most well known, best selling and industry-backed writers. To make a living from the craft and business of writing, you need to diversify into other forms of media, channels and platforms – not just publishing and selling books.

Is it madness to want to have a career in writing and publishing?

I have only really been on the self publishing/ publishing scene really since the release of my first book. That was only 6 months ago (1 November) – yet I guess in reality, I started researching and considering what I needed to do if I aspired to write and publish, in March 2013 when I came up with the crazy idea to write my story.

In any case, as a (relative) brand newbie to book and publishing world, perhaps this has been an advantage -not knowing the mechanics and realities of how hard, demoralising it actually is – and how skinny the rewards and returns can be.

I push on regardless with my business and marketing hat on, being guided by the gems I pick up in my writer/ publisher education and determined that I might just cut through by being a little bit naive and off centre as I carve my own path for my work.

Reality IS biting though – about the money aspect. Yes, financial reward is important to me and a key success marker – because we all need money to not only live and pay bills, but to continue to write, create and inspire with our work. After a solid 6 months of putting off seeking work from my usual profession, (and recovering from the writing and publishing efforts of the last few years) I have now tuned into the clear and unmistakable message from industry veterans and those who have ‘made it’ on the publishing scene (this year).

Here is my reality: I should not expect to live off the efforts of my writing at the moment or any time soon. If I do not want to lose my  house and want to continue to invest in being a writer and self publisher – I have to diversify my writing activities and get paid work immediately. And, I will – but right now, I need to keep plodding. I am making great headway, but it’s a ways to being able to sustain myself. 

Here are some of the wins.

Reason to continue and persist

  1. It’s early days – I’m not going to give up after only 2 years and 6 months of focus. I am reminded by others that it’s only early days and I am an infant in this new world. I am not yet worthy of being an overnight success am I? It won’t stop me trying.
  2. I am finding some places to fit into the writing and publishing world which is full of quirky creatives and inspired, hilarious and deeply talented people. I want to be one of them.
  3. My work as a marketer, communicator, sales person, writer and publisher is of high quality and standard. I know I have a lot of knowledge and now, experience to give in the future as an educator.
  4. Sheer determination and willingness to swallow my fear and charge on is reaping rewards. I should not stop now – I should keep going! I will!

It was incubating and growing for two and a half years before my story was ready for ink and paper. Now half a year old, what has been happening in life of this new book, Accidental Aid Worker? I had great expectations of my first-born book and whether they’ve been realistic or a flight of fancy, I have held on tight, white knuckled on the rollercoaster – the vertical learning curve, the dips and the climbs through the writing, production, delivery and distribution of this book. Hold on to your hats everyone – here’s the big update.

A relatively easy delivery

The actual delivery date of the book was 13 October, a significant time, being the day after the anniversary of my mother’s passing (yes, that was planned). I spent the two weeks prior to the launch writing personal notes in over 110 books, packaging and posting books to all those who had purchased in my pre-sale campaign. I had promised to do that, and 110 books went out all over Australia, US, Sri Lanka and Europe before the launch.

1 November was a launch day and it threatened to storm and chunder. This is not good for an outdoor event at your home, and thankfully the rain held off until after a beautiful gathering of friends, including Greg Fisher and Dr Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who graciously helped me bring this beautiful book into the world. You can read more about it here and also see photos.

 

A heart-warming reception from readers

Thank you – to everyone who has not only taken time to read the book, but also to tell me how they feel about my story. My book has been warmly welcomed. I am so thrilled to be connecting with my readers and have my very human story embraced. After sending a copy of the book to Professor Dame Marie Bashir, I received a delightful letter from her. Her comments begin the reader’s comments page, and I am truly  humbled by not only her feedback, but by the kindness shown by many others.

When I receive messages from readers, whether mid-read or at the completion of the journey – we share a particular sense of connectedness.  I am encouraged – no, honoured, that people have taken the time to not only read, but to let me know how they feel and relate to the book and my journey. Please DO keep those comments coming! You can email them to me here.

 

Getting AAW on the shelves of bookstores and libraries in the new year

After a quick break to dive the waters of Vanuatu between Christmas and New Year, I focused on the task of trying to get Accidental Aid Worker into more bookstores and into catalogues in public libraries. I set myself a goal for Easter to learn about it – and crack that nut. I would also be trying to get some speaking gigs – author talks at either library or bookstores.

Can I start by saying this – it’s NOT EASY – at all!!! It’s daunting. When you don’t know how any of that works and you’re an unknown, untested self-published author of a very  personal memoir – it’s terrifying and intimidating. Long story short – I had been encouraged that two of my local bookstores had taken the book in-store when I launched the book and, on my first day back to ‘work’ mid-January, I nervously and tentatively fronted up to my local library, book-in-hand, to ask how this all worked.  It was taken from my hands immediately with words of ‘yes, we’ll take it’. HOORAY!

This was the beginning of 5 weeks of cold calls and visits to book stores and libraries. With a fair number of knock-backs and non-answers – it was becoming a rather demoralising task. This effort resulted in get Accidental Aid Worker into 8 bookstores and 5 libraries. I had, however, reached a point where I needed to find a distributor. At the end of February, Accidental Aid Worker was accepted with independent distributor Dennis Jones and Associates . I continue to keep pushing on with my own marketing to libraries and bookstores as it does take this kind of collaboration to make it succeed.

This distribution relationship enables all trade distributors to easily order and receive Accidental Aid Worker.  The delightful team from Dennis Jones and Associates are (almost) always happy to answer my questions and work with me, and although it’s only early days, my book is now available at a growing list of bookstores and libraries around Australia – click here to see where AAW is on the shelf.

I am also really loving carving a Sue Liu/ Zulu-style niche in the self publishing and book world.  Because I know no other way – I’m learning, creating new pathways and engaging with industry professionals as I do. This could be a whole new area of focus for me that is very different from the usual business, strategy and marketing work that Zulu Communications is known for. 

Did you know: If you want a copy of Accidental Aid Worker from your bookstore or library – you can ask them to order a copy. PLEASE DO!

 Q: How many sold?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips. How does a self-funded, self supported author throw that answer out into the world without saying this first. Is it all about sales? Well, some of that success equation relates to unit sold – and you also have to consider: time, direct vs. distribution, consignment, production and related costs, profits (what are they), profile, reviews, readership, promotion, e-book distribution and credibility. Don’t forget sanity.

A: My first print run is more or less gone and I now have Edition 2 printed. In short – yes, I have done modestly well in the last 5 months.

 

Publicity and my NSW speaking tour 

I was  honoured to be interviewed by Kel Richards from 2GB quite soon after the launch. Honoured because he had read the book and the interview was my very first! It was a wonderful first experience in the limelight – and you can listen to it right here!

This is the big one – the author talks, book tour, speaking schedule. It’s all those things. My first public talk was at Woollahra Council – a little teaser if you like as I was invited as a guest speaker for a volunteers’ meeting. Coming up in June – I have my very first – official round of public talks at libraries in NSW. 9 talks in 7 days in fact – click here to see the full schedule which starts at my local library on 2 June – Leichhardt  and travels through NSW Riverina region – ending at Albury… 2-9 June. 

I am certainly interested more speaking, interview and collaboration opportunities and would be happy to discuss your ideas!

To infinity and beyond?

So, what does the future hold for me as a)self employed person b) new author c) self published author d) community worker?

Your guess is as good as mine. I’ll be busy continuing with marketing Accidental Aid Worker, embracing community work and speaking opportunities while I develop my skills and techniques and try to earn a living in business and marketing world too. Somewhere in between – I will continue with writing…the sequel to AAW.

 

 

In my last newsletter and just before Christmas, I put out a call for volunteers to help with the preparation and service of lunch on Christmas Day at Gethsemane Community in Petersham. It’s my usual Christmas Day gig – and as the year wound up, I took on the additional duties of trying to organise the volunteers for The Christmas Project. Read more and see the video to refresh your memory.

Making Christmas Day 2015 a joy for community, volunteers and homeless people

Here’s how it happened – starring  Zulu’s Community/Sue, Gethsemane/Myree, Vic, Our Big Kitchen, Live, Love, Learn and volunteers

  • I offered to assist Gethsemane Community‘s Sr Myree Harris to find and co-ordinate volunteers for Christmas Day and also to help fellow volunteer, Vic, with the sorting and delivery of hampers to boarding houses around the inner west.
  • I contacted Our Big Kitchen to ask for help in finding volunteers for the day and also to supply vegetables for the making of salads for the lunch.
  • OBK put the word out on their Facebook page and also introduced Live, Love, Learn – a children’s art program, who co-incidently were going to be making cookies and gift bags on Christmas Eve for (ideally) homeless and disadvantaged people on Christmas Day – but did not have a recipient. Divine providence was at work here as this perfect match was made! On Christmas Eve, I went to OBK to collect 100 beautifully decorated cookie bags and thank the 85 children who prepared these package. The afternoon was spent doing the final packing of gift bags and hamper deliveries to boarding houses.
  • My nephew, Tim, helped me prepare 3 industrial sized salads (in a tiny kitchen) for the Christmas Day lunch.
  • On Christmas Day, around 35 volunteers assisted to put on a memorable day for around 80 visitors and their carers, preparing and serving a delicious feast and truly enjoying each other’s company.

That’s the power of community, collaboration and co-operation – and Zulu’s Community.

Thank you to everyone who contributed goods, gifts, food, time, energy, attention and support to make this day run so smoothy and so well.  

On going – Sue and Vic team up to feed Sydney’s homeless

One of the key outcomes of this short but intense lead up to this festive season service is, that after 4 years of volunteering for Gethsemane, a very key connection was made. Vic, who has worked with Myree for 6 years with the running of Christmas Day lunch, was -dare I say, shocked and surprised that I could ‘take over’ and run things so smoothly and drama-free.

 

Screenshot 2016-04-22 11.18.44

When Vic asked for my input into a community lunch that he has run for 3 years at a church in Darlinghurst, I said yes.

Each Thursday, Vic and a small team of volunteers prepare and serve fruit salad, burgers or sandwiches and coffee to around 40 homeless people. I have been volunteering most Thursdays now, and during his university break, so has Tim.

These few hours have become an important way for me to keep grounded and connected to my community. I look forward to this time and prioritise it, because it’s a tangible, practical way to serve my fellow human beings. I help feed people without any other agenda than to make a difference IN that moment.

We are a small team – from 4-7 people each week and this motley crew, called the ‘dream team’, are a really lovely bunch. It’s a small, but mighty effort – and we need more volunteers in our dream team.

CAN YOU HELP OUT ON THURSDAYS?

If you can contribute 2.5 hours on a Thursday morning, even if it’s now and then, to assist us with feeding a small segment of Sydney’s homeless community – please contact me and I’ll connect you with Vic, who will be thrilled to have you as part of the ‘dream team’.

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Just finished reading your book Accidental Aid Worker. Thank you for sharing your journey – not just a how-to on becoming involved in community work – but a very raw, personal & honest account of your emotional, spiritual, physical & mental journey of life. Funny, tragic & inspirational all rolled into one, I admire your vulnerability, down-to-earth attitude and your courage to face both mountains and valleys, and to traverse them both. What a pleasure to get to know you further through reading your memoirs and of course, to have you on our team at our C3 Cares Community Lunch. You are greatly appreciated & I’m looking forward to Book No. 2! – Monica Olander from C3 Church

launchIMG_0869Part of the massive (and worthwhile) effort over the last few months has been to approach libraries about giving an author talk. This is not such an easy thing to do! Even some of the most well-known, well regarded writers struggle to gain a coveted invitation and more than a handful of people at their talks. Taking a punt on my book and me, is quite a huge deal – for all involved.

I thank the team at Woollahra Council for giving me my first opportunity as their guest speaker for a their quarterly volunteer meeting. I am now thrilled and excited to announce a speaking tour in NSW in June.

 

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  • 2 June – Leichhardt Library -Travellers’ Tales Author Talk – 6:30pm
  • 6-9 June – Riverina Regional Libraries: Wagga, Coolamon, Cootamundra, Temora, Bland, Corowa and Mulwala
  • 9 June – Albury Library Museum – 6:00pm

Can you guess how many kms Sue will drive on this speaking tour?

NSW Road trip map

Competition details will be announced on the Accidental Aid Worker Facebook page

If your community group, library or bookstore is interested in hearing first-hand what compelled me to put 12 years into voluntary community and aid work – please contact me – I’d be thrilled discuss the opportunities further.

 

Media Releases:

I am very proud of my association with Sydney Development Circle (SDC). It has been almost 9 years since, as a fledgling volunteer ‘aid worker’that I became a founding member of this group in 2007. I was invited to speak at the second meeting of SDC about my experiences in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2005 and 2006.  I have been active and involved in helping keep our development community connected with SDC, as part of the steering committee, helping with events (including the cook-in event in February 2016 at Our Big Kitchen) and social media.

SDC16Feb066

Sydney Development Circle cook-in event at Our Big Kitchen, with food produced donated to the House of Welcome. This event in February 2016 was produced by Zulu Communications for SDC.

Today, SDC has evolved and still serves as an important volunteer organisation that brings together practitioners, academics, volunteers, students and passionate, kind-hearted human beings who desire to be involved for the good of humanity. It is by hearing each other’s stories that we often learn about how complex the world is and many, like me, value this opportunity to connect and share so that we can continue to make a difference in community. Find out more about SDC 

Accidental Aid Worker is my very unique story about diving into development work in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami as a passionate, ‘gung-ho, independent and self funded ‘aid worker’. This beginning has led to over 12 years of getting hands-on and often, in too deep, in far flung places like Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and here at home in Australia
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 SDC logo$5 donated to Sydney Development Circle when you buy a copy of Accidental Aid Worker. 

To help SDC with keeping our communities connected, I will be donating:

  • $5 from each hard copy book purchased directly at an SDC event or from our shop.  Enter ‘SDC’ in to the coupon or comment section at check out and $5 will be donated to SDC.
  • $1 from each e-book from this link

Zulu Communications is proud to be a supporter of SDC through the Accidental Aid Worker fundraising campaign. I hope you’ll support us both and, learn from AND enjoy the journey. 

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Review by Kiran and Robyn Hutchinson, SDC members and community development practitioners.

In 2004 the Boxing Day tsunami struck Sri Lanka, a country to which Sue Liu had travelled only a few months earlier. Leaving 35,000 dead and 500,000 displaced, Sue felt compelled to DO something and she did – rallying her friends to chip in, donate and give whatever they can. Sue and her friends’ generosity fill a container bound for Sri Lanka, where she travels to escort the supplies through the chaotic port of Colombo and then to Trincomalee in the far north. What she finds is far removed from her expectations of good will and the experience plunges her into the challenges that all of us face in the development landscape.  Sue finds herself an ‘accidental aid worker’.

“A brave and honest book”

This poignant travel memoir, Accidental Aid Worker details the adventures, challenges, doubts, and tribulations Sue experiences as she finds herself immersed into the humanitarian and development world.  The book extends far beyond the aftermath of the tsunami though.  Through her experience in Sri Lanka, Sue finds she has a passion and skill for community work.  Sue is also a woman of the world, with skills in demand by corporations. The pressures of humanitarian and corporate work, including the physical and mental stresses thrown up when doubts surface about the worth of one’s work and life, are a compelling theme of Accidental Aid Worker.  It is a brave and honest book.

Sue passionately, and always honestly, leads us on a path through the cultural challenges and the rewards that the community development sector can bring – and many humorous and heartfelt tales involving nuns, a tuktuk accident, refugees and orphaned children and so much more.  For those of us working in development, Sue’s passion to support community reflects our own paths in many ways. Her story reminded us of the joy we have felt at the connections and contributions we have made and why we are so passionate about development at the grass roots level. Accidental Aid Worker provides real-life lessons of operating in a cross cultural context.

Accidental Aid Worker highlights the bigger question facing us all, no matter where we are working on the continuum between aid and development: how to get ‘right’ that fine balance between aid and development, including how these two facets can complement each other and move towards sustainable community development at the grassroots level. This is a fundamental principal and critical challenge for all of us working in development. By putting her own achievements, mistakes and the personal impact of her efforts in writing, Sue holds up a mirror to the sector – allowing readers to reflect on our own struggles. Sue is one of us. We appreciate her honesty and energy because it keeps us focused on what is important in development work: passion and impact.

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Yes – you know that late last year I (Sue Liu via Zulu Communications) successfully self published and launched my adventure travel memoir Accidental Aid Worker.

Yes – the process of writing and producing my own story and work took enormous time, commitment, focus, creativity, trips to the Chiropractor, learning a new craft and industry and tenacity AND money. It was a mighty effort to push through without completely burning out (again) and I made it through with sanity intact. JUST!

People ask me (constantly) how many books I’ve sold, because in terms of the perception of success in authoring and publishing – the measure is the number of units sold. I always baulk at this question because I wonder if it’s giving away too much and quite honestly – it makes me feel like a failure. WHY? Because I’m being measured by a scale that does not really exist for first time authors and self publishers and doesn’t equate at all in the world of traditional publishing. This is not just new for me – it’s new for everybody.

I have to create my own context and terms. That’s not so easy. Having run my own consultancy ( Zulu) for over 14 years, you’d think that I could more easily work this out. No – this is not the same and if you think being a self employed consultant is easy (no one does) – then try entering a new field and writing a book! It’s a completely different kettle of balls.

Do I care what people think IS success when it comes to units sold or ROI? Isn’t it more important for me to consider the impact of my story and how it feels, helps and resonates with those who’ve taken a punt on me and have bought my book? When exactly will I be able to say to myself “Sue, you can relax. You have been successful” ?

Sure – all of that – but what about my dreams? When you do this – aren’t you supposed to shoot for the moon? Am I expecting too much to dream big – to be snapped up by a publisher, be widely supported, have a marketing and PR machine behind me, be on the best seller list, have  a movie made from my book (who would play me?) and have my book sitting next to Elizabeth Gilbert, Frank Lowy or Sophia Loren on the shelf?

It’s ok to dream you know – and to have lofty aspirations and goals, but how deeply grounded in reality are those dreams and expectations when one is:

  • A first time, unknown author, self published, self employed, single person;
  • Between contracts and seeking connections – to pay the mortgage and feed the cat;
  • On the way to writing a sequel to the first book and juggling;
  • Considering if this is a post-mid life crisis thing or a real chance and a career transition;
  • Trying….really HARD to stay balance and grounded.


Gauging and measuring success (in no particular order)

1. Resonance and response: My story is unique, yet resonates with many in so many ways (I don’t want to give the story away – so let’s just say many ways).  People tell me that I’ve helped them experience many different aspects to life and raise burning questions that no-one else dare to verbalise. Yes -I went there. Maybe that I’ve helped a few people come to terms with their own struggles is in itself a measure of success.  You can read comments from readers here.

2. Attention: Maybe getting myself onto the shelves of two of my local book stores and in my local library is a win too. I didn’t realise how much it may be a win until others told me that is a victory.  Perhaps being interviewed by fellow author and master broadcaster Kel Richards on radio 2GB ( yes he did read the book) should be a time to celebrate. I did – that was nerve wracking and exciting.  You can listen to the interview here.

3. ROI and sales: So back to that questions about how am I doing with book sales and does it matter? Yes, it matters to me, because as a self funded, self publisher and a business woman. I want to see my investment in putting myself on the line and also my financial investment bare fruit. Based on this (modest) success, I have to evaluate if, how and when I will publish again.  Since launching on November 1, 2015, purely on my own steam via hard slog, marketing and direct sales, I have over 200 hardcopies of the memento edition of Accidental Aid Worker out in the world throughout Australia, USA, Sri Lanka, UK, Canada and Europe. Buy a copy of Accidental Aid Worker – signed copy and ebook or look for me on Amazon.com if you’re outside of Australia.

4. How I feel: Being human and learning about all of this as I go, understanding how to keep my ego in check and balance out all of these complex variables is probably THE most important thing.  Sometimes I get a bit hyped up and excited, other times it’s just dull and hard slog. I can’t afford really to go too NUTS about anything – one way or the other.

I am constantly reminded by friends when I get a bit blue or impatient about the pace of things, that this creation – a book of my life (that took me a year and half to incubate and year to write and two months to deliver) is only two months old.  They tell me, to have achieved Accidental Aid Worker at ALL is a big deal and to compare my version of success to anyone else or have reached those levels of success is stuff of dreams. I need to be real –  I’ll give it another few months :-)

And, on my bookshelf, I’m already next to Elizabeth Gilbert and in a book store, I’m right next to Sophia Loren – so I should be happy with that. 

AAW on shelf with Liz at home

2GB logo

 

This is the interview with Kel Richards from Radio 2GB / 3AW/ 4BC recorded on 18 December 2015.

Christmas time is a hard time for many people, and all for different reasons. Some are alone, in conflict, have lost a family member and are grieving or are far away from home with feelings of nowhere to go. When its perceived that you’re the ONLY person in town with no ‘ho-ho-ho’ to look forward to – the time looms with doom and dread and you feel like you’re some how missing out and it’s just depressing.

I know. Me too. This is my reality…. until now and I promise – FOR REAL. 

Stay with me.

Yesterday – I was in the doctor’s waiting room and in walked a lady whom I recognised. I had seen her at the Christmas party I have served and volunteered at for the last three years.

“I know you!” I said to her “We’ve spent Christmas Day together before at Petersham!”.

“Awwwwwe, I know you too” she said. ” Awwwe, Christmas day – I love the party.”

She turned to her carer and said ” Awwwe, it’s a wonderful day. I see my friends, we have a party, there’s music, it’s delicious food AND we get presents. Awwwwwe, I’m so excited!”.

Sandra and I talked about the party that’s coming up, and how in two week’s time, we would be together again for this day. I told her that I would bring some of my 80’s music CDs and because she likes it – I will make potato salad WITH bacon (sorry to the vegetarians).

It meant something to me – to have this moment with Sandra, and for her to know that ‘Sue is going to be there to help her have a good day.’ We are friends for real now and looking forward to seeing each other on this day.’

I know what my day(s) of preparation and service are going to mean to Sandra and the 70 or so people (including carers) who live in group homes and boarding houses all around Sydney, who have intellectual disabilities and mental health issues, who have no family and come to Petersham for Christmas lunch. It means THE WORLD to them.

THE CRUNCH: I NEED 9 more people to help me on the day and be part of this very special opportunity to bring JOY to them. TRUST ME – it will bring immense joy to you too.

So, if you or someone YOU know is feeling a little left out and wants to find new purpose for this time of the year – please join me as a volunteer. We will all be together and we won’t be lonely.

Details: Christmas Day – 25 December
Time: 9:30 – 2pm
Where: Petersham
Duties: setting up, helping prepare and serve food, cleaning up, talking to people, helping them pop their bonbons and maybe even a bit of silly dancing to 80’s music.
What to bring: a salad, comfortable shoes and intent to have a good time.

Call me: 0411743015 – and PLEASE SHARE THIS POST ON YOUR WALL- and click below to see the VIDEO of the Christmas Project

THE CHRISTMAS PROJECT from Sirin Productions on Vimeo.

Why Gethsemane Community?

It’s my fourth year as a volunteer with Gethsemane Community. I usually make 3 large, industrial sized tubs of salad for Christmas Day lunch – that takes me most of Christmas eve to prepare. This year I’m organising all of the volunteers and helping with running around. I am also working with Our Big Kitchen to provide supplies and cookies. That story follows.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Accidental Aid Worker by Sue Liu

Accidental Aid Worker

by Sue Liu

Giveaway ends December 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway