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David Donaldson's Humanitarian Space

David Donaldson weekly diary in the Courier has been a popular feature over the last 8 months. Dave is a local boy from Wollongong and has been working in war torn Sierra Leone. This week the courier decided to interview Dave and find out what Dave is thinking in his last month working as a Humanitarian aid worker helping the poor:

The Courier: Readers have been following your adventures for several months as you have brought life saving aid to thousands living in war torn Sierra Leone. What have been the hardest moments for you:

Dave: Some days I have just wanted to pack it in, dealing with grinding poverty everyday can really get you down. I was pretty surprised that poor people aren't always that grateful for what the're given and a lot of times ask for more. When you explain to them they are lucky to be getting what they're getting they usually realise they were being a bit selfish. I think dealing with the beneficiaries has probably been the hardest, as they are so needy and complain a lot.

The Courier: Apart from these tougher moments there must of been some wonderful experiences.

Dave: Yeah, for sure. I think in general being able to use the skills I have picked in my working life and then be able to apply this to Humanitarian aid work has given me a lot of satisfaction. I think without my sales engineering background I would have been a lot tougher to deal with the incredible complex job I have. If I have to think of a great moment I think it was organising and ensuring that the visit of the great humanitarian Angelie Jolie went so well in Sierra Leone.

The Courier:  I thought that you were unable to meet Angelina.

Dave: Yeah in the end, I was a bit busy with the organisation of her visit to meet her. But it gave me a lot of satisfaction knowing that her visit was a success and she was able to see the contribution that Hope is making in Sierra Leone.

The Courier: I guess you must have mixed feelings about leaving Sierra Leone in one month.

Dave: I guess for me at the moment I am on a bit of a emotional roller coaster. I have formed some really close friendships with my colleagues here in Kamekwilu and also with the national staff who are very friendly. The local people are such an inspiration to me, they have suffered so much and are able to still smile. A lot of my ideas have been shaken up by living in Sierra Leone, for example I always thought it necessary to get three square meals a day, but here a lot of people only have one or two and they seem ok.

The Courier: So Dave, what are your plans after leaving Sierra Leone.

Dave: That's a big question. Well I plan to get married 21 months after I return from Sierra to my Fiancée of 4 years. Then who knows what the future holds. I think I would like to continue working as a humanitarian and assisting populations in danger. I think I have the skills now to work in bigger emergencies like Darfur or the Tsunami. I always new I performed better under pressure, but I know now I am very stress resistant and are ready for a bigger challenge.