Angels of Aceh: The compelling story of Operation Tsunami Assist
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A gutsy and passionate Australian, Paul Dunkin didn't hesitate when he was asked to help in a crisis. He joined the first international surgical team to visit tsunami-devastated Banda Aceh, just days after a giant earthquake hit the region. An anaesthetist, Paul spent the next weeks with the team in a blur of operating, working and saving lives. They were the first to arrive and with next to nothing, they performed great feats. This story of the Combined Australian Surgical Team Aceh (CASTA), told by Paul's wife, Sophie York, is a compelling snapshot of what it was like to be there at the epicentre of the disaster. We learn about the Australian medical team: what they did, what they saw, how they lived and how they coped with being there amongst the complete devastation. Through the team's eyes, we see the people and what remains of their homes, families and lives. This book vividly brings alive the sights, smells and sounds in a way that television and news reports somehow do not. It is also, more importantly, an affirmation of the human spirit of dignity, generosity and hope under overwhelming pressure. Begun as a personal record, Angels of Aceh has become a chronicle of an intense but brief time. It is an immensely engaging and uplifting book. Fifty percent of all author royalties from the sale of each book in the first year, plus an accompanying donation from the publishers Allen + Unwin, will go to the Jesuit Refugee Service, who are currently working to re-build the shattered community of Aceh province, Indonesia. Sophie York is a barrister, a member of the Naval Legal Reserve Panel and a law lecturer in Advocacy and Jurisprudence. She is married to Paul Dunkin and has four sons, Liam, Darcy, Francis and Pierce.