A Generous Donation from Hans Rudi Brawand
By Africa World Books - April 3, 2017
Hans Rudi Brawand walked into the offices of Africa World Books and Alpha Family Day Care Services to meet Peter Lual Reech Deng on the morning of Friday 31 March. Having read in a local newspaper about Peter and the work he does for the South Sudanese community in Perth, Mr Brawand decided that he had to meet Peter and share his memories of travelling and working in South Sudan, and discuss the important programs that Peter runs for South Sudanese Australians. Mr Brawand brought several artefacts (including books about the Anyuak people, and traditionally hand-crafted items of cultural value) that he had collected many years earlier in Malakal City, the capital city of the Upper Nile Province of South Sudan. He presented these treasures to Peter and, through him and the programs he runs, to the South Sudanese community in Perth.
Mr Brawand’s story about the childhood that led him to Sudan, and thus to these items, is both compelling and rich with vivid detail. Born in Grindelwald, a tourist town in Switzerland, in 1932, he grew up during a time of great international unrest, seeing the start of World War II before his tenth birthday, but his childhood cultivated in him a great desire to see the world and in his own words to “find out what lay behind these high mountains obstructing my views.” After leaving Grindelwald, he did indeed see much of the world, and helped many people including those in Sudan.
In 1948 he left his hometown for Basle where he was offered an apprenticeship as a pastry chef / cook at a bakery, where he became aware of the allergy to flour dust that would dash his hopes of becoming the greatest pastry chef in Switzerland, but which Mr Brawand optimistically says “was the critical turning point in my life that would eventually send me around the world to help people of many lands.” The allergy that sent him around the world set in motion a path that would lead him to Sudan as a chief delegate for the Red Cross, where he says he worked in the cities of “Malakal, Wau, and Jabu for the people of South Sudan, who are still suffering after so many years of turmoil and war.” It was during this time that he visited the Malakal City market in the Upper Nile Province, where he bought the important objects that he has given to Peter Deng.
The traditional items include three large, circular hand-woven mats, patterned in colourful blocks and concentric circles, which would have been placed over food as a cover. Mr Brawand also presented Peter with a hand-carved hardwood-and-ivory cane, of which Peter said that he felt triumphant in receiving this gift from a man whom it was such a blessing to have met. Peter Deng says that he believes Mr Brawand must have been sent by the late chief Reech Deng (his father) and that the gifts and conversation that he shared with this messenger made him feel as if his father had been resurrected.
Also, part of Mr Brawand’s bequest are three books: volumes II, III, IV of Conradin Perner’s “The Anyuak: Living on Earth in the Sky”, which details much of the cultural history of the Anyuak people.
Mr Brawand has been a friend of the South Sudanese people for decades, and after all he has done to help the people of the world, he has decided to generously pass these gifts to Peter Deng, returning them to the people of South Sudan, people whose suffering he has seen and known first-hand.
Mr Brawand can be taken as an example of kindness and compassion towards others, in his life, his work, and his generosity. His is a life that has embraced the spirit of community that is important to Africa World Books and Alpha Family Day Care Services. Having endeavoured throughout his life to help others around the world, his gift is a token of his warm feelings towards people in general, and the Sudanese in particular, and can be appreciated as a model of kindness and community-mindedness.
The information and views set out in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. Neither the publishers nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the nature, veracity or accuracy of the information contained herein or the use which may be made thereof.