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Trusting Bamboo Bridges

The military is on the offensive.

Refugees are flooding over the border.

Aid agencies are mobilizing.

Kelley Simons is about to head home after a grueling stretch in an East African field hospital. A laboratory technician, and an expert on malaria, she’s a rare commodity in humanitarian aid circles. So when the laboratory supervisor for a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border is injured, she is the only replacement available. Kelley has never worked in the complex cultures of Asia, in a refugee camp, or under such intense security. She trusts that her African experience will see her through, that her dedication is strong enough, that her new colleagues will keep her safe, and that her ex-boyfriend will stay out of trouble.

Will Kelley’s trust be misplaced?

Trusting Bamboo Bridges takes you to a time and place that challenges our assumptions about the human condition. Thailand is renowned as an idyllic country with friendly, welcoming people. But in 1997, politics, personal bias, and the weather are all conspiring against the ethnic Karen minority, and the team of well-intentioned Westerners who are doing their best against overwhelming odds.

When Kelley is asked to temporarily supervise the lab in a refugee camp along the Thai-Burmese border, she figures it will be a quick and easy babysitting job. She could not be more wrong.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson spent eight years working with Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders, as laboratory supervisor in Asia and Africa, and personnel officer the European and Canadian head offices. This experience has given her a unique perspective on the challenges of refugee life and the people who try to improve it, not to mention the complicated politics of refugee aid, working immersed in foreign languages and omni-present culture shock.

She spent two years with the Karen people, in the camps of Thailand, and villages within Burma, and although Trusting Bamboo Bridges is not autobiographical, the settings, and many of the events chronicled, are true to her experience.

She has finally retired from the vagabond life, and has settled in Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC, where she owns and operates Rendezvous Dive Adventures with her husband Peter.


In addition to running a Dive resort and writing novels, Kathy also finds time to take stunning photos of West Coast nature.  Check out her photography at


Wow! An enthralling window into the high-intensity world of humanitarian aid workers
I recently read an advance copy of this book. I found the main character a little whiny to begin with, but as I continued reading the story it became more and more interesting/exciting/gripping – I finally finished it around two o’clock in the morning, because I couldn’t put it down! – Michele M

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I love stories that keep your interest the whole way thru! This book didn’t disappoint and kept me up several nights turning the pages to see what happened next. The Author spins a wonderful tale while widening our horizons on the plight of the little known people the Karen. Any book that can keep you engaged in the story while teaching you about others cultures and hardships is one that gets my vote! Well done! – Marc Damant

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Just finished “Trusting Bamboo Bridges” Loved it. It is hard for me to imagine living through an experience described in your book. – Russ Rockwood

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Just read the book cover to cover and I absolutely loved it! The characters are as complex and alive as the jungle that the story is set in. The author transported me to another world in a way that only a good book can and if you are looking for a fast paced, real life adventure this is it. – Angela Damant

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I have finished reading your fabulous book, a real page turner! I highly recommend Kathy’s book, enjoyed it so much and learned a lot too!! Thanks for your great writing Kathy!! – Alice McDonald

Buy the Book


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Trusting Bamboo Bridges is available in hardcover, for a cost of $xxx plus shipping. If you would like to order a copy, please use the form on the right.

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They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, the same can be said of writing a novel. Happily, my village is populated with wonderful, supportive, and endlessly patient people and I’d like to give them my heartfelt thanks. To all my early readers: Marie, Tanya, Renee, Char, and Jennifer. To Michele, my web-wizard. To James who did his best to teach me the rules of grammar. To all those who helped guide me through the labyrinth of the publishing world. To my wonderful husband, Peter, who provided endless cups of coffee, help finding the more elusive words, and the space to let my mind wander … a lot. Last, but never least, to David for being there from the beginning, for being my sounding board, and for never allowing me to quit. Thank you.

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