United Nonsense: The Book
Ummul Choudhury is the CEO/co-founder of Capoeira4Refugees, RealtimeAid and tech start-up Frontline Aid.
ummul choudhury, development consultant, middle east specialist, sports charity consultant, charities consultant, start-up consultant, united nonsense book, Capoeira4Refugees, capoeira charity, Frontline Aid, NGO specialist
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United Nonsense: The Book

Ummul is currently writing her first book, ‘United Nonsense’. It tells the true story of a start-up in Syria helping traumatised child refugees and abused women, and the efforts of its founders and staff to negotiate the precarious terrain of the humanitarian aid industry. In doing so it asks a key question: in a sector worth more than $150 billion, why does only 2% of that money go to local people and local organisations?


Ummul lived in Damascus, Syria, when the Arab Spring started. It was there she met Tarek Alsaleh, a German-Syrian entrepreneur. Together they founded a charity that uses sports (specifically the Brazilian martial art, capoeira) to reach traumatised and vulnerable people. When the Syrian War began, Tarek’s family became refugees. But he remained committed to helping young people and wider communities in conflict zones, and from there the charity has grown into an award-winning enterprise.

A startling analysis of the international aid sector

The story provides the backdrop for a fascinating insight into cultural difference, and a startling analysis of the international aid sector – an arena that continues to belittle, limit and lock out local people from accessing money and support (in spite of the best intentions of many well-meaning professionals). This power balance has a devastating impact on those whose lives are fractured by war and disaster.

Unique stories of war

The book is a testament to all the people that Ummul worked with during her 12 years living in the Middle East, and their unique stories of war. Drawing on personal experience that is both inspiring and harrowing, this unconventional analysis of the aid system shows why the promises to localise aid are failing, and how we can improve things. 

A different perspective

The majority of literature in this space is written either by men, academics, or development experts reflecting on their successful careers as humanitarians. Most have not lived through the experience of working with people on the ground, through war and crises, running their own start-ups with no safety net, and at the same time having a professional, linguistic and expert background on the politics and history of the areas they work in. Ummul has all of these things, providing a compelling point of difference for this book. Hers is a one-of-a-kind voice and perspective on what happens when a system is not doing what it was designed to. 

How we can give, better

Ummul raises moral and ethical questions about the complex world of international aid, and points the way to how we can give, better.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more about the book and to stay up to date about its launch, please get in touch.