This blog will share the reflections and stories of Australian writer and activist, Donna Mulhearn, throughout her pilgrim journey.

Short bio:  

Activist, writer and speaker, Donna Mulhearn, was a human shield during the war in Iraq and later returned as an aid worker and human rights activist. She is a journalist, former political adviser and Masters graduate of the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. She has just returned from her fifth trip to Iraq where she researched the effects of toxic weapons on the civilian population, particularly babies in the city of Fallujah. Featured on ABC’s Australian Story program, her book, Ordinary Courage, a memoir about her experience as a human shield, was published in 2010 and is now available globally as an e-book. She coordinates the Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons and is currently working on a book about the 2004 attacks on Fallujah.


Background info:

Author and activist Donna Mulhearn is a former journalist and political adviser. She is the author of a memoir, Ordinary CourageMy journey to Baghdad as a human shield, published in 2010. Her professional background includes more than 10 years as a newspaper journalist with Rural Press, she also spent some years as a Youth Worker, working with homeless teenagers in Sydney, and has been involved in politics for 20 years, including a term as an elected representative on Maitland City Council, and working as a media adviser to a minister in the NSW Government.

She has an extensive history of community involvement and volunteering including volunteering in community development roles in Africa and East Timor.  She has been in leadership positions in various churches and community organisations since the age of 15.

Donna expressed her opposition to the war in Iraq in 2003 by joining the Human Shield mission, an international movement using nonviolent means to protect civilian infrastructure during the war. She later returned to Iraq as a humanitarian aid worker. She was part of an international team of volunteers that established a small NGO “Our Home – Iraq’ which set up a shelter for street kids in Baghdad, a centre for traumatised children and provided emergency aid to displaced families.

In Baghdad – Our Home, Iraq shelter 2003

In 2004- 2005 Donna spent four months in the West Bank of Palestine as a human rights monitor. During these years she continually wrote reports and reflections which were distributed widely around Australia and the world appearing in mainstream and independent media. On her return visits to Australia she did talks at schools, churches, peace groups and community organisations about the situation in Iraq and Palestine.

Donna has faced trial and prison time for breaking into Pine Gap US military base in December 2005 to do a ‘Citizen’s Inspection’ with five other Christian pacifists called “Christians Against ALL Terrorism’. The goal was to highlight the central role the base played in the war in Iraq and its lack of accountability.

In January 2010, Donna was part of an international delegation that broke siege of the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid and bring solidarity to the people of Gaza. The delegation was part of the wider Gaza Freedom Marchwhich attracted about 1400 people from more than 40 countries to Egypt with the goal of entering Gaza together and raising awareness of the illegal blockade. The Gaza Freedom March was endorsed by a long list of eminent people world-wide.

Donna is currently a writer and speaker on non-violence, activism and contemplative spirituality. She is motivated by the Christian teaching of non-violence. Donna describes herself as a ‘pilgrim and storyteller’ and practices a spirituality of action and contemplation which includes the practice of Christian Meditation, living in intentional community, challenging militarism and living simply.

Donna is a sought-after speaker for schools, churches and community groups and continues  writing pilgrim notes and presenting talks around Australia about the war in Iraq, nonviolence, how to make a difference and Christian Meditation

Featured on ABC’s Australian Story program, Donna describes herself as a ‘pilgrim and storyteller.”

Her website is www.pilgrimstoryteller.com and www.ordinarycourage.org

She has writings published in four others books:

Ending War, Building Peace Published 2009 by Sydney University Press

118 Days: Christian Peacemaker Teams held Hostage in Iraq  Published 2008 by Christian Peacemaker Teams

Staying Alive – From the Heart of the Human Condition to the Challenges of Life and Death, Griffith Review edition 17  Published Spring 2007, Griffith University

And the Dance Goes On – An Anthology of Australian Catholic Women’s Stories Published 2005 by John Garratt Publishing


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