Theresa McDonnell Friström is a former International Development Worker. She worked in management positions for Concern Worldwide in Asia and Africa, for Irish Aid, Government of Ireland, in Uganda and South Africa, and for Vita (RTI International) Dublin. She holds an M.Sc. (Econ) from Swansea University, Wales and Diplomas in Social Policy and Administration (Swansea University), Human Resource Management (IMI/Trinity College Dublin), and Disaster Management (Dhaka University, Bangladesh). She has researched Social Performance Management in Microfinance at University College Dublin (UCD) and studied Swedish at Lund University.
She began her overseas development work as a volunteer with Concern in Bangladesh (1973-75) and continued to work with Concern over the following twenty years, as Assistant Country Director in Thailand (1979/80), Country Director in Uganda (1981/82), Tanzania (1982/83), Sudan (1984), Bangladesh (1988/89), as Head of a number of Departments, and Member of Emergency Teams in Dublin (up to 1994). She was the first female Head of Personnel Division (in 1992), was Country Director in Cambodia for three years (2002/05), and was the first Chairperson of the Board of AMK Cambodia (2003-2005). She was the second Programme Officer appointed by Irish Aid in Uganda (1994/99) and in South Africa in 2000. She worked with Vita in Dublin as Programme Advisor, primarily for Ethiopia, for two and a half years, (2005/08).
She is a Member of Concern, and a Member of the CLTS Foundation, and an Associate Medical Missionary of Mary (MMM). She currently teaches English in Simrishamns Komun, Sweden. She was born and grew up in Rathcoole , Co. Dublin, Ireland and is married to Gunnar Friström . She now divides her time between Ireland and Sweden.
What Have You Got In Your Bag?
What Have You Got In Your Bag? is a collection of stories inspired by the unplanned happenings in the everyday life of an Irish aid worker – stories of things that do not appear in job descriptions, in Strategy Papers, nor in White Papers, but must, nevertheless, be dealt with.
They begin with an early-summer family gathering in the picturesque Upper Punchestown in Co. Kildare, Ireland, and then move to the semi-nomadic cattle herders of Karamoja ; the burial in Uganda of victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide; the choosing of paint colour for the hospital in Kagadi ; convincing sceptics that it is possible to rehabilitate rural roads using women’s labour ; car-hijackings; deaths of three co-workers; a road accident in South Africa; a life-changing visit to beautiful Brantevik in south-eastern Sweden; dreams; survivors of the Khmer Rouge; and finally helping to create an award winning microfinance institution in Cambodia. These are memories that come like drops of water that separate for the great mass, dance in the sunshine, and create rainbows. These are stories that want to be told.
“These are wonderful stories, beautifully written. I really enjoyed your writing style, and you have much to share about the life you have lived and the experiences you’ve been through.” – Laura Monroe
Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.