Praying for Sunlight, Waiting for Rain, by Kieran Donaghue

Date and time:  Wednesday, 5 June 2024, 5 p.m.

Place: Paperchain Bookstore, 34 Franklin Street, Manuka, ACT

RSVP: Paperchain (02) 6295 6723 or

Ellen Starck shares the prejudices of her society about native peoples. Her initial experience of the newly ‘discovered’ New Guinea highlands, in which she arrives in 1937 as the young wife of a Lutheran missionary, does little to change her mind. After initially marking time she gradually ventures beyond the meagre European society around her into the highland world, but then personal tragedy strikes, testing her to her limits. Eventually the prospect of a new life in America presents itself, but the Pacific War intervenes, bringing further isolation and loss. Her response is a decision to return home, but not to the home she originally left.

The book cover for Praying for "Sunlight, Waiting for Rain". A woman strides across the peak of a jungle mountain.

Praying for Sunlight, Waiting for Rain.

Kieran Donaghue studied philosophy in Australia, the United States and Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. He taught for a short period at the Australian National University, then spent nearly twenty years working for the Australian Government’s overseas aid program. During this time he made numerous visits to countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, learning much from local people and from many fine aid workers dedicated to improving the lives of others. Praying for Sunlight, Waiting for Rain has its genesis in the visits Kieran made as an aid official to the highlands of Papua New Guinea.