The simple gift of two eggs and a lemon from a young boy becomes the symbolic title of Joanna MacLean’s remarkable book, chronicling her four years in Myanmar. Working with the Red Cross from 2002 through 2006, at a pivotal period in the country’s political transformation, MacLean’s memoir is an honest, intimate story of a fascinating, exotic people within a culture shaped by the pulse of Buddhism, a people of indelible spirit in the face of adversities.

The gift of Two Eggs and a Lemon is MacLean’s enchanting focus on the stories of people she met and learned from, and how such humble generosities bridge our understanding of human commonality.


Anthropologist, teacher, photographer, writer, art gallery owner/director, Joanna MacLean taught in her native country New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and England before beginning her international Red Cross career that spanned 28 years. From 2002-2005, she was Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Delegation in Myanmar, and she also worked in Africa and the Caribbean/Central America. In the Geneva HQ, she held a number of Department Head posts and was a leading figure in the Movement’s global events and campaigns over a period of 15 years from 1988-2002.

As an independent consultant she continues to do some training and short-term assignments for the International Red Cross, including another three-month stint in Myanmar from September to December 2013.

In 2004 she co-founded La Luna Gallery in Chiang Mai, Thailand specialising in S.E. Asian contemporary art focussing on art from Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and since 2011 she has been joint owner/director of Colour Factory, operating shops in and around Chiang Mai. One of the main products on sale are the painted elephants of the internationally known ‘Elephant Parade’. Her company is supportive of Elephant Conservation and has organised a number of events to bring attention to this issue.

As a board member of ‘Naka Foundation’, which is dedicated to the conservation and well-being of elephants, Joanna lectures to school and university students and to service groups in Thailand on issues related to elephant conservation. She is a founding member of the ASEAN Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG), a group of regional elephant specialists, veterinarians, researchers and conservationists who are working to create more awareness about both the problems and the possible solutions, as well as provide recommendations to improve health care and management practices for captive elephants in the ASEAN countries.

She is also a board member of ‘Skills for Life’ a foundation which provides vocational training and job opportunities for underprivileged youth from Hill Tribes around Chiang Mai.

She continues to enjoy traveling and photography in her spare time and in combining these interests and her experience has worked as a lecturer aboard cruise ships in Asia and the Americas.

Joanna has been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2006.


Photographs by Joanna MacLean      copyright 2016


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