In memoriam: Donna Burns

Issue 

By Helen Jarvis

SYDNEY — On January 25, Donna Burns died tragically, just three days before she was to leave for Cambodia on assignment for the trade union aid organisation APHEDA for which she worked as Asia Pacific project officer.

Many Sydney political activists will long remember Donna. In addition to her work in APHEDA, she contributed in recent months to the Australian Cambodia Support Committee.

But she is best known for her long and devoted work for freedom in South Africa. Donna was secretary of the Australian ANC Support Committee and had thrown herself enthusiastically into the recent tour by Nelson Mandela. In 1987-88, she had taught for two years in the ANC's Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Tanzania.

A memorial service was held for Donna on February 7 in the crypt of St Mary's Cathedral, where she had organised a joyful meeting for Mandela last October, and where the accompanying photograph was taken. Personal and political friends paid tribute to her 33 years of life, and sang for her. Donna's gentle strength touched the hearts of many.