A life of adventure. Discovering our clients.7 min read
We know Brightwater At Home clients have led rich and interesting lives, and we are so pleased when we get to learn about them. After all, it’s part of our Brightwater ethos - Seeing what others don’t.
So when Brightwater At Home support worker Clare Richards told us about the book written by her client’s husband, we knew we had to find out more.
The book is To the Horizon and Beyond, an extraordinary story of adventure, service and love, written by Hansrudi Brawand whose wife Ann is a BAH client. Together they worked with the International Red Cross in conflict and disaster zones around the world.
Yet their partnership might not have happened if it hadn’t been for a wrong number.
The right ‘wrong’ number
One morning in 1972, Hansrudi was in his Bangladesh office busily organising the cargo ships transporting Red Cross relief supplies when his phone rang. Hansrudi says he had never heard such a warm and friendly voice.
“I was immediately electrified by the sound and I thought I have to find out who she is. I tried all sorts, even though she wanted to hang up once she realised she had dialled the wrong number,” he laughs.
Hansrudi invited Ann to join him for dinner that night, naming the time and place where he would be waiting. At first she was reluctant but after urging from family, Ann changed her clothes and hurried to the restaurant. She was 18 minutes late but Hansrudi was there, waiting hopefully for the lady with the beautiful voice. Within a few months, they were married.
Following their time in Bangladesh, Ann and Hansrudi went together to Sudan and then in 1979, they emigrated to Perth where Ann had relatives. But it was not to be the end of their involvement with the Red Cross. In 1980, Hansrudi went to Somalia as deputy chief delegate and administrator, with Ann joining him a few months later to work as a school teacher in Mogadishu. Hansrudi says he was pleased to be back with the Red Cross.
“It's very satisfying because you are actually seeing your work make a difference to people’s lives,” he says.
Risking danger to make a difference
Hansrudi says he knew from his first mission with the Red Cross that he had finally found the adventure he had been seeking. That first mission was in Nigeria, where a civil war was tearing the country apart and the Red Cross was working to alleviate suffering where it could. But it was dangerous, really dangerous, as Hansrudi recalls.
“I had to drive along frontlines every week to find out what the medical teams needed. When enemy planes saw my white land rover, they started to dive down on me but thankfully when they saw it was a Red Cross car, they flew away. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
Recording the memories
Over the past few years, Hansrudi has been casting his mind back to situations like this, and many more, as he worked on his autobiography. The book details his life’s work as a chief delegate of the Red Cross in Africa, and the many places he has worked which include Nigeria, Turkey, Bangladesh, Slovenia, Croatia, Somalia, and Sudan.
“My life was so extraordinary, so fulfilling that I had to write it down. We both feel proud of what we have done and what we have achieved in our life,” he says.
To the Horizon and Beyond was published in November 2022, by Perth based African World Books Australia. It is available for purchase from online bookstores, where the book’s description is fitting:
Hansrudi Brawand takes us on a journey through the world's hotspots and his own internal struggle with restlessness, his need to keep serving people and to try and make a difference.
Now in their early 90s, Hansrudi and Ann are rightly proud of their humanitarian work across Africa, Asia, and parts of eastern Europe.
After a lifetime of helping others, Hansrudi says it has been a little difficult to accept that they need support in their home now. But they are delighted with their BAH team, who Hansrudi described as like good friends.
Like all good friends, we feel proud to know such an inspiring couple. Bravo, Hansrudi and Ann Brawand.