Goolwa author Roger Rees shares his experiences in Ethiopia in his latest book No Turning Back

Where do you find true resilience?

For most of the western world, it’s hard to truly imagine the suffering of those doing it tough in third-world nations that lie oceans away.

But seasoned author and Goolwa resident Roger Rees is hoping to change this for anyone who picks up his latest book No Turning Back.

In 2014, Roger travelled to Africa to experience firsthand the lifestyle and culture of some of the world’s poorest people.

NO TURNING BACK: Goolwa resident Roger Rees at Bombora Cafe with his latest book, which tells the story of resilient women facing immense hardship in Ethiopia.

NO TURNING BACK: Goolwa resident Roger Rees at Bombora Cafe with his latest book, which tells the story of resilient women facing immense hardship in Ethiopia.

Four years on, the Emeritus Professor of Disability Research has brought his experiences to life in the hope of demonstrating the magnificence of resilient women in the face of natural disasters and political turmoil in Ethiopia.

The professor spent 30 years as head of a trauma unit in Adelaide, specialising in brain injuries, neurological disorders and working with people with HIV/AIDS.

It was his passion for helping people recover from trauma that led him to Ethiopia, where he spent a month with the nomadic Hamar tribe.

In the book, Roger tells his story through the eyes of Australian anthropologist Louise Davitt, a character he based on a young women he treated over the years.

The story is about a young woman who is highly resilient, imaginative and strong despite her struggles

Roger Rees

“All of the characters are real people, I just chose to disguise their true identities to respect their privacy and not expose anyone diagnosed with HIV or has died from it,” he said.

“The story is really about a young woman who is highly resilient, imaginative and strong despite her struggles… it’s her story; it’s her love story.”

Despite the wealth of knowledge he had already gained from a lifetime as a medical professional, Roger felt travelling to Ethiopia would bring authenticity that was essential to the story.

“I visited the principal hospital in Addis Ababa… there were 600 people in the ‘waiting room’, which was essentially outside in the garden,” he said. “I needed to experience it all to understand the true magnificence of these people.”

He described his eighth book as his biggest piece of work yet.

“It was like I’d been given a jigsaw but without the picture on the box and I had to find a way to put it all back together,” he said.

So, where do you find true resilience?

“In the face of trauma, loss and suffering, and in the relationships people form that allow them to deal with their struggle,” Roger said.