For an irreverent Australian view of volunteering, it would be hard to beat Paul Coghlan’s recent book 'When You Stop Laughing, Go Home'.
Coghlan, a former Victorian public servant, spent two assignments in Timor-Leste between 2010 and 2013. The country is “a mess, but a mess in progress,” he concludes – just one of many conclusions on everything from the 550 aid agencies now operating in Timor-Leste to the decency, resilience and good humour of ordinary Timorese. In the publisher’s words:
‘This is a series of stories telling of how an ageing Australian in a transitional time in his life met a young nation in a transitional time in their life and how over two and a half years they worked together, laughed together, came to understand each other and helped rebuild each other.’
When You Stop Laughing, Go Home is a straight talking, humorous and heartfelt appraisal of volunteering and Timor-Leste, through Aussie eyes. Definitely worth a read.
This ABC radio interview features Coghlan talking about his book.