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.

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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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