"Robyn is a true storyteller who will transport you to the places she visited..."
- Wendy Smith
"I believe Robyn has written a one-off. I haven't picked up another book like it."
- Arcadia Love
"A worthy, entertaining and thought-provoking read."
- Tony Arlow
"Robyn teaches us a lot through her personal experiences."
- Janet Green
"This story would make a great film."
- Sam Stendard
"What exquisite heart lies within this story"
- Maggie Hamilton
"I can’t put the book down and will be finished it by the time I leave. So much for a good book while I’m away!"
- Anni Philp
"This book is for anyone who wants to stop being a tourist and start travelling with an open mind"
- Rachael Stacey
The wisdom and insights gained from these diverse life experiences, together with her strong intuition, humanitarian pursuits and her spirituality, have naturally led Robyn to become a writer. Her list of published work with News Limited, Pure Health magazine in 2001-2, includes regular feature articles, stories of socially conscious travel and a shared health and wellbeing column called Soul Solutions. She has also published regular articles in regional newspapers in Queensland, Australia, covering topics such as self empowerment, healing, spirituality and life purpose.
Robyn is an accredited private Counsellor and Life Coach based in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. She is a busy Marriage Celebrant, who enjoys spiritual and cultural celebrations, is an inspirational speaker, and has presented at many workshops. Robyn has been invited as guest speaker to The Joining, Being Women, National Interfaith and Woodford Folk Festivals in Australia and has delivered presentations at corporate and government conferences.
She now lives with partner Gary and her beloved dog Wups, currently spending half each year writing, and finding peace in her middle years aboard the family canal boat in France. This will certainly become the subject of another book!
As the subtitle suggests, the books takes readers on a very personal journey as Robyn discovers her love for socially conscious travelling and for humanity, while learning lessons about life. Her interaction with a family living on a dirt ledge in Shimla during her travels to India, led to a deep yearning within to contribute something more significant to individuals in developing countries. To provide a wake up call that travelling can become an act of giving and sharing rather than passing through as a tourist, taking photographs with little meaningful interaction.
Robyn returned home to Australia and to fundraising for a journey through Vietnam in 2009. It was on the streets of Hanoi that she and partner Gary, met a disabled street boy named Duong; the main character in the book. In finding Duong, Robyn also found a powerful, unexpected and loving connection that quickly developed; akin to a mother and son relationship. This graphic, moving and ultimately tragic story illustrates that it is possible to combine the pleasures of foreign locations and cultures, with the ethics of conscious travelling. In Robyn’s case however, it came at a price.
Woven into this extraordinary journey are Robyn’s personal insights and wisdom about life, born through years of teaching, counselling and diverse multicultural experience. She hopes her book will reach the heart of readers as she shares honestly and intimately, the ethical and moral dilemmas that accompany her giving of aid. The tension that mounts as the author struggles to assist Duong, together with the devastating consequences that unfold at the conclusion of the book, make it hard for the reader to put down. There is a refreshing and at times gut wrenching honesty in the sharing of the author’s emotional and ethical journey. She unfolds and examines her own ideology on countless occasions along the way. Many people have an unfufilled need to in some way extend themselves and to be of genuine assistance on the planet. Many feel helpless as individuals, unable to contribute or to make any real difference to the lives of others.
This journey provides an opportunity to consider the far reaching and often hidden consequences of aid and the much bigger story that surrounds any small event that takes place in another culture, such as a tourist gifting a television set to a hilltribe family in the mountains of Vietnam. Robyn's hope is that by sharing her intimate fears, doubts and frustrations in this story, she will provoke an awakening in others of their own emotional journey. That travellers and photographers will look beyond the lens in much greater depth, to the very real and personal stories and cultures before them.