My name is Brendan McDonald.

I am a humanitarian activist. I’m neither a paid up member of the chattering class nor a member of the chardonnay set. 

I only dance when I am not sober.

After years of sitting around cafés and bars, debating how to improve the humanitarian system, I have finally decided to put pen to paper.  Blogging offers me a wonderful creative outlet; it refreshes my perspective on life.  In hindsight, a difficult day at the office turns out to be a learning experience, a chance for me to paint the most incomprehensible moments in my professional and personal life with fresh colours. It is something to savour with a single malt whiskey in my hand.

I was born and raised in Australia, and am fortunate enough to have both Australian and British passports. My father was Welsh, my mother is South African. I live in Barcelona, taking a break from aid work.  Ultimately I want to find a place in the sun, my own Arcadia.  I am yet to speak fluent Spanish, although I have picked up a little bit of French, Arabic and Albanian along the way. At times I speak a little too quickly and have that unique Australian habit of dropping the last syllable from my senten…

Since 1999 I’ve worked in many countries, implementing aid programs, coordinating large-scale humanitarian responses, advising on humanitarian information management, and most importantly, learning and collaborating with passionate and amazing individuals. I have met strangers who, despite having been driven from their homes because of conflict or disaster, greet me with such warmth and hospitality.  This is something I have rarely experienced in countries untouched by wars.  I am passionate about the rights of the displaced, asylum seekers, and refugees.

In my spare time, I am active on social media and am a budding amateur photographer. I also love reading a lot, especially the New York Times, The Economist and historical non-fiction. I have two beautiful children in Australia, a boy and a girl. I am blessed to be in a loving relationship.

In January 2015 I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). After treatment failure in July 2015, I switched to a second-generation treatment, dasatinib; and then to nilotinib; and then back to a dasatinib. So far, so good. Side effects “suck” though.  I still have a pulse, which is a good thing.  If I didn’t it would freak people out, not just me.  When I am very calm, or anxious, I can feel it pulsating away beneath my skin. For the next few years my CML will keep me away from working in conflicts or disasters, but I do hope to return to the field, wherever that is, at some point in time.

In June 2017 I set up a company, Uncomfortable Revolution, with some friends and family. The company seeks to change the way people approach sensitive, awkward topics. In May 2018 we will start to publish some amazing content in print, digital and physical forms. Watch this space!


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Brendan McDonald, Old Melbourne Goal, July 2016

Brendan McDonald, Old Melbourne Goal, July 2016