!Reviews by industry professionals contain spoilers!


AAW Review - manning


This autobiography had to be written

This amazing woman has lived four lifetimes of an ordinary woman and, in doing so, has made a huge difference to many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives.  All I can say after reading Sue’s story is, ‘What a woman!’. She shows us how one person can make a difference in this world, and I am in awe that she has been able to accomplish so much. An inspiring book. Read how the review by Chris Gibbons and supported by Di Morrissey, came about.   Read the full review – Manning Community News – April 2016

Chris Gibbons & Di Morrissey

How wanting to help became life-changing

Accidental Aid Worker is the story of how wanting to help a community became life-changing. It is also an exploration of the complexities of aid, both moral and logistical. Sue does not shy away from the hard questions. She asks us to think about how aid might impact local economies and can become mired in corruption. There will never be enough aid, so how do we make ethical and sustainable choices in its allocation and provision? Is one person, operating independently, more agile than a large bureaucracy? Or is the security provided by the big NGOs necessary? She also asks us to consider how we travel around the world, respectively. The curious phenomenon of visiting another country, another culture, to see and experience different things can be embarked upon in an open, accepting way, or be voyeuristic, exploitative, even parasitic. Extract from a review by Jessie Street National Women’s Library, February 2018 - Read the full review in Jessie Street Newsletter  

Jessica Stewart and Barbara Henry

A brave and honest book

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 goodwill and the experience plunges her into the challenges that all of us face in the development landscape.  Sue finds herself an ‘accidental aid worker’. 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 grassroots 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 principle 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. Review by Sydney Development Circle members and community development practitioners – March 2016

Kiran and Robyn Hutchinson

Heroic efforts were humbling and inspiring

I found myself fascinated by how someone who was a ‘normal’ non-aid person got involved in the whole affair. I was endlessly amazed at the determination you demonstrated to help people and it was a good reminder that that spirit and energy is what drives so many of the people who donate to these emergencies. It is something we (so called insiders) acknowledge but take for granted and often don’t REALLY understand. I do remember the huge outpouring during the tsunami of the most amazing donations from all sorts of people, especially an elderly woman who said she had been saving for a car but now wanted to give that money to us to help the victims. To read about your heroic (I don’t use that word lightly) efforts was really humbling and inspiring. Your intro and the story of your heartache…so familiar to so many in the aid business in so many ways. So, you may be /have been accidental but you certainly shared a lot of what non-accidental ones do. I know your profile says something but curious to know where all of this leaves you.

Nate Rabe, Author and actual, bonafide aid worker.

Brave story told with candour and grace

Sue’s story is told with honesty, candour and grace. It stands to remind us that we all have stories, that each story is valid, and that by sharing them with each other – we are united by our similarities and can forget about our differences. Her message of community is awe-inspiring and changed the way I viewed the world and my contribution to it. What can we give, indeed? Sue discusses many deeply personal topics openly and with humility. By mentioning the often ‘unmentionable’, Sue’s book opens the window to a refreshing no-bullshit, no-holds-barred memoir. She is a brave storyteller who will go there, go everywhere in fact, in her search for meaning, answers, happiness and connection. Sue addresses issues of love, death, family, religion, compassion and modern notions of success. This book will make you feel less alone in the world – in your hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows. Exotic travel adventures are countered with touching moments of gravity and the poignancy that we, as humans, can never escape. Life cycles, beginnings and endings, the rough spots in between. The breath-taking sacredness that takes us by surprise… It was a pleasure to work with you, Sue. Your determination, commitment and passion drove this project along at lightning speed – you were unstoppable! And thank goodness, because Accidental Aid Worker is a tender, raw, humorous offering that the gods are surely smiling upon.

Rainbow, Editor of Accidental Aid Worker

Her spirit and positive attitude shines through

Sue’s message is that out of every story of pain and suffering, there is light. Library members and guests were drawn into the events of the traumatic 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami at Sue Liu’s compelling talk. The impact of the tsunami was the turning point that made her think of her moral responsibility as a human being to help others. In her book, Accidental Aid Worker,(reviewed in the February Newsletter), she tells the story of how one person can make a difference. Although it became overwhelming, her spirit and positive attitude shine through.

Jessica Stewart, Jessie Street National Women's Library

Professor Marie Bashir said…

Accidental Aid Worker is an epic memoir, which touches many sensitive aspects of your life, with which I can identify. This unique journey is indeed rich with memorable characters, events sensitive reflections.

Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO

A ripper read

Sue Liu’s book, Accidental Aid Worker is a compelling read and fun, too. The opening, travel-oriented chapter, in particular, is a ripper — personal, fast-moving and revealing, plus there’s romance and a villain, and then redemption. Sue captures ‘moments’ beautifully and the turning points in any episode, and does so in crisp prose that’s devoid of artifice or self-aggrandisement. As her narrative progresses into the book’s sustaining topic, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, she is revealed as an absolute demon for responsibility and involvement, and for getting results. It’s a lengthy tale, set mostly in Sri Lanka and partly in Australia, of tenacity and touching humanity. Her achievements both in “spontaneous” aid work and in later penning this well-crafted tale are formidable. John Borthwick, is a fellow adventurer and, among many other accolades, Australian Society of Travel Writers’ 2016 Travel Writer of the Year.

John Borthwick- Travel author

Thomas Keneally said…

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