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Purple Hands: A Kiwi Nurse-Midwife’s Response in Times of Crisis.

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Barbara Walker QSO

What is life like for aid workers who gather from around the world to serve refugees who have fled their homes due to famine, political unrest, and disasters?

Kiwi nurse-midwife, Barbara Walker – who spent 20 years working for international aid agencies – shares her dramatic, heart-rending, and inspiring stories of the situations she faced and the people she sought to help.

From the Sakeo One Refugee Camp in Thailand, where she cared for those fleeing Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia in a make-shift bamboo-framed field hospital, to her last placement in Mozambique that ended due to a death threat, Barbara’s Christian faith gave her strength and kept her focussed.

We also learn of Barbara’s early life in New Zealand, and her later call to ordained ministry as a chaplain when she returned after serving overseas.

Barbara hopes that her story will inspire and encourage all who read it to think outside the square and seek to make a difference in the world in which we all live.

Post COVID-19, we all have a chance to move forward, working together to address the inequalities which she has seen around the world and here in her country of Aotearoa New Zealand. We cannot make changes alone, but by listening, sharing, building trust, and working in partnership, we can make a difference for all. It’s up to us all.


Praise for Purple Hands

“You are in for a riveting read. Expect to laugh a lot and maybe cry a bit. Barbara, one of my former highly valued colleagues in Pakistan, is one of God’s more intrepid and dedicated servants.” Ruth Coggan MB, ChB, FRCOG, OBE, SQA

“Every now and then God sends into the world a special person, a high achiever with a great passion for demonstrating Christian work. Barbara is that person.

Barbara sometimes lived on the edge of war zones. She took her extraordinary nursing and administration skills into desperate situations around world. Her resilience, bravery and perseverance are a shining light, benefiting humanity in many different countries.” Rosemary Holt (Fellow aid worker)


About the Author

Barbara Walker was called by God to become a missionary nurse at the early age of 13. Little did she know that she would end up working in some of the toughest places in the world over several years.

She has had a multitude of roles including nurse, midwife, eye surgeon, anaesthetist, dentist, car mechanic, vet, plumber, carpenter, health manager, and she is also an Anglican Priest.

Presently, Barbara is Lead Chaplain at the Hawkes Bay Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Hastings, New Zealand, and a Regional Chaplain Manager for the Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy.

The Bible verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” has remained very special for Barbara. It has given her great strength to keep going, seeking to save lives and do her best as she faced challenges and situations which were way beyond her ability to handle, including a death threat and serious illnesses.
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