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Don't Look Back: The David Bussau Story

How an abandoned child became a champion of the poor

Don't Look Back: The David Bussau Story by Philippa Tyndale
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'I don't know who my parents are. In the orphanage I was brought up in, the emphasis was on self survival ... one would come up with different approaches to solving life's problems.'
David Bussau, 'Opportunity International'

When David was left shivering at the end of a dusty road leading to a New Zealand orphanage at the age of nine it seemed his prospects could not have been bleaker, yet somehow this scared little boy managed to not only survive but flourish. At the age of fifteen David set up a his first hot dog stand at the local football ground; by 35 he was a multi-millionaire and the owner of a highly successful construction company in Sydney.

However making money for its own sake proved hollow reward for David and when Cyclone Tracy decimated Darwin in 1974 it also launched David in a whole new direction. In a voluntary capacity he took a team of tradesmen, along with his wife and two very young daughters, to Darwin to help in the rebuilding program. The experience opened his eyes, got him thinking and changed his life.

David divested himself of all his companies, poured his money into a philanthropic family trust and headed, again with family in tow, to Indonesia to help rebuilt a tornado-torn village. Ultimately this led to Opportunity International, a major global aid organisation co-founded by David and operating today in thirty eight countries.

Opportunity International is credited with revolutionizing overseas aid through the principles of ‘micro enterprise development' - offering small repayable loans to the poor so they can start and grow their own small businesses. Once criticised for trying to inflict capitalism on the poor, today the World Bank and international aid agencies applaud the visionary nature of Bussau's principles.

Back home in Sydney, he has a family of his own - a loving wife, two grown daughters and five grandchildren - that David is devoted to. Along with the global tragedy David confronts constantly the Bussau family has not been without their personal challenges. Yet David believes, in a strange way, it was his emotionally and physically deprived background that actually enabled him to achieve all that he has in both his personal and professional lives. And it is clear that the lines between the two will always be blurred.
Allen & Unwin; August 2004
315 pages; ISBN 9781741152333
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Title: Don't Look Back: The David Bussau Story
Author: Philippa Tyndale