Forced to Flee: Refugee Children Drawing on their Experiences
Our world is an unequal place. Those of us living in temperate climates, in safe, democratic countries, with social welfare programmes that protect the disadvantaged, have minimal concept of what life is like for those without those privileges. In her introduction, Cate Blanchett, writing the introduction as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, states that ‘a refugee child has dreams and aspirations just like any child. But being uprooted from their home means that often they don’t have the chance to achieve their goals …’. She reminds us starkly that ‘No one chooses to be a refugee.’ Yet right now, in many parts of the developed world, strident voices are trying to make us turn away from welcoming or including people who are ‘not like us’.
This book will shake us to our core and rightly so. Here, we are witness to some of the horrifying realities of the lives of children from Syria, South Sudan and Central America, through their drawings and voices. These are real children, real people – not fictional characters created to make us feel empathetic. Their childhood is every bit as precious as our own children’s childhood. Their drawings show the appalling impact that conflict and war have had on their lives. The images are heartbreaking. And yet, amazingly, they also demonstrate tremendous resilience and determination in the face of appalling suffering and trauma. Perhaps, given the courage of these children, we can hope that a book like this, used wisely in the homes, schools and libraries of peaceful countries, just might make a difference. Forced to Flee should be an essential literacy resource in every classroom and on every teacher education course.
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