Friday, July 18, 2008

Soul mate is laid to rest but his gift lives, by Daniel Emerson - Brisbane Times - 11th July 2008

The Australian aid worker Darren Stratti was shot dead just before he finished overseeing the building of a village in Tanzania but his father has pledged that his friends and family would complete the work.

"I don't hold anything against the man who fired the bullets; I pity him because he's got to live with it for the rest of his life," Sam Stratti said at his son's funeral yesterday.

"It's a far better thing to give than receive. Darren knew that. He wanted to do something better for humanity. [His death] is the world's loss."

Darren Stratti was shot dead 11days ago while defending his partner, the charity founder Rebecka Delforce, and other female aid workers during a robbery at the village they were building for children in Arusha, near the Kenyan border.

About 500 people attended the funeral at the church at St Joseph's Primary School in Moorebank, where Mr Stratti and Ms Delforce were childhood sweethearts.

Ms Delforce recounted how they used to walk to the same church hand-in-hand for school Mass. They lost contact after going to separate high schools but reunited years later after MrStratti had married and divorced another woman with whom he had two sons.

She said Mr Stratti re-entered her life when she was yearning for a soul mate to help her realise her dream of forming the charity foodwatershelter to help poverty-stricken Tanzanians.

"I thought that this so-called soul mate really needed to turn up. I had important things to do and needed some help," she said.

"I asked the universe to act as a medium. I called out to this evasive soul mate of mine."

She said she received a call from Darren within a week and they had their first date in 2004.

"Darren told me that night he fell in love twice. First with me and then my life plan," MsDelforce said.

"He was the most attentive partner; he guessed my every need before I even thought of it.

"Having an argument with Darren felt as safe as sharing an ice cream.

"Darren was as brave as a lion in protecting his loved ones."

Ms Delforce's father, Warren, revealed in a statement read by his son, Josh, that Mr Stratti had indicated he would soon ask for her hand in marriage, a request he would have readily granted.

"If there were any two people on this earth meant to be together, it was these two," MrDelforce said.

Mr Stratti's sons, Daniel, 14, and Robbie, 18, spoke of surfing trips with their father and said he had taught them how to express themselves through music.

"Rest in peace. We love you, mate," they both said.


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