The Brighter Side of the Road

The Brighter Side of the Road, edited by Helen Coughlan and Janet LawrenceThe Brighter Side of the Road: Upbeat and Offbeat Yarn from Home and Abroad, edited by Helen Coughlan and Janet Lawrence (Boolarong Press, 2005) is a “Compendium of stories … a gathering of recollections and reflections of Australians who have ventured out to make a difference – both at home and abroad.” As more and more young people are setting their sights on taking a gap year when they leave school, they (and their parents!) may be looking for reading material to help them make their choices.

There is something here for everyone. A fair share of travel disasters and both uplifting and amusing anecdotes of experiencing different cultures: food in China, for example, or attending a ploughing ceremony in Cambodia. Two sections really stand out – “Making a Difference – Helping Hands”, which contains some inspirational experiences of people working for humanitarian organisations; and “Young Trailbalzers”, experiences of Young people who have stepped outside their normal lives to experience a different culture, whether on their own or as part of an organised group, including Round Square. What comes across very clearly is how all their lives – and the lives of many others – have been changed by their experiences.

As well as being good reading for anyone setting off on their travels, some of these “Upbeat and offbeat yarns” would make great school assembly material… And another good reason for getting hold of the book is that all Profits are shared between War Child Australia, Rotary Polio Plus programme, Save the Children Fund, the Hill Tribe Children’s Village at Mai Suai in Thailand, and “Friends” restaurant in Phnom Penh, which trains street children for hospitality work. Read here for how to order the book…

One young contributor, Justin, who introduces himself as a 17-year-old “indigenous Australian… of the Kamilaroi nation” describes how and why he helped to set up the Croc Festival in Moree, New South Wales for 8-18 year olds. His Trailblazer article ends with these words:

“I challenge you as the reader of this book, regardless of your age, race or gender to get out there, find something you would like to see changed and DO IT!”

6 Responses to “The Brighter Side of the Road”

  1. Janet Says:

    Thank you not just for telling us about this book but providing the link for similar books and music that we can all order, no matter where in the world we might be.

  2. Marjorie Says:

    Yes, and actually, another of the books on that page, Kids Night In is highlighted in a Personal View by Aline – and it is a fantastic anthology… which reminds me, I haven’t looked at it for a while. Time to dig it out for a night in with my two. Just the kind of evening we need before school kicks back in!

  3. Helen Says:

    The people who have contributed stories of their experiences to “The Brighter Side of the Road” are great role models for young people. I have tremendous respect for them – AND our younger generations, and I do not subscribe to the theory that the kids of today are ” all about me”. Nothing could be further from the truth! The stories in the book say so much about being aware, and working to help all people in the world to walk on the brighter side of the road. We can all make a difference if we believe in ourselves and strive to succeed in the company of friends, as the people in this book have done. They are not self-absorbed ” do-gooders”; they are everyday people who roll up their sleeves and just get on with it!

    The more fortunate youth of the world can walk hand-in-hand with those less fortunate, sharing the laughter and the tears, changing the lives of so many people for the better, and having a lot of fun in the process.

    The fact that all proceeds from the sale of “The Brighter Side of the Road” are donated directed to charities supporting the world’s children has touched the hearts of so many readers, and since publication, over Aus$5,000 has been distributed among these charities. In distressed countries and struggling communities, $5,000 is a lot of money. I can assure you it is being put to good use. Thank you!

  4. Marjorie Says:

    Thank you for your words, Helen – you are so right in what you say! It is good to hear, too, of the money you have raised so far with the book – we wish you continued success.

  5. Christine Says:

    Helen is so right; these people have quietly brought confidence to so many who have not experienced the brighter side of life, and showed them the road to travel. I’m sure the broader the reach the more fulfilling the experience. The generous donations of proceeds is making an enormous difference to some many children’s lives.