White Australian Helps Africans – Gets Murdered for His Efforts

Shot kills the dream of aid worker Darren Stratti

The Advertiser | July 03, 2008


A SYDNEY man who followed his dream to build a village where African orphans could be fed, educated and given health care has been shot dead by robbers.

Darren Stratti, 36, a father of two teenage boys and a passionate musician, was just months away from finishing the village in remote northern Tanzania with his partner Rebecka Delforce.

The couple had given up the idea of settling down in Australia with a mortgage and instead raised funds for their not-for-profit organisation, foodwatershelter Inc.

A Masai warrior on guard outside their room in the village on Tuesday was tied up by bandits trying to steal $6000 intended for building supplies.

The bandits shot Mr Stratti through a wall.

Jason Stratti, 32, said his brother and Ms Delforce had been in bed when a spotlight shone through their window before a man falsely claimed to be a security guard.

Mr Stratti yelled for the men to go away before they heard a gunshot with Ms Delforce telling him: “They’ve got a gun and it’s dark.”

When the gunmen tried to burst in, Mr Stratti yelled for her to hide under the bed before he was shot.

Ms Delforce opened the safe and then abused the bandits in a desperate attempt to make them leave, Jason said.

As she accompanied her partner in the back of his ute to find a hospital equipped to treat him, he kept trying to reassure her, repeating: “I’m going to be fine.”

He died at the third hospital.

“He fought all the way. He wasn’t complaining about being shot, he was just saying it was OK,” Jason said.

“I’m very proud of how Darren has lived his life … and it motivates me to find what my passion is.”

Ms Delforce was in a hotel provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs last night.

Mr Stratti’s mother Neroli spoke with pride yesterday about the work her son was doing as the building foreman and her wish that the Kesho Leo children’s village be finished.

“It is not something to feel bitter about, as much as I feel sad for my son and for Rebecka’s loss,” she said from her Chipping Norton home.

“He had the most beautiful compliment paid by one of the African workers, who said: ‘You must have diamonds in your eyes to build something like this’.”

Of Rebecka, Mrs Stratti said: “She is just so traumatised, she is a very courageous woman and she is the real driver behind setting this up. She felt guilty he was there because of her but he willingly went there.”

More than 500 villagers turned out for an impromptu memorial service on Tuesday.

Ms Delforce, a former journalist, first met Mr Stratti at St Joseph’s Primary School in Moorebank when as a Year 1 student she drew a picture of herself marrying him. They met again in 2004 after Mr Stratti’s first marriage ended.

He had two sons Daniel, 14, and Robbie, 18, who returned from Tanzania two weeks ago.