Some books touch your heart and leave an imprint forever, Gulwali Passarlay's book "The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee's Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half The World" does just that. Today i'm so excited to have set a date with Gulwali for our first joint training event 'supporting child refugees' to be held in Leeds, Autumn 2017, more details soon. It seemed timely to share the note I sent to him last year, after completing his book. If you've not read it yet, I'd really encourage you to do so...if you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts below!
Dear Gulwali. I first started reading your book after my first trip to the 'Jungle' camp, It took me 6 months to finish because if I'm completely honest, I found your story so painful to read. It struck a chord deep inside me, so I've only been able to digest it in short chunks. I want to thank you for your courage, for sharing such personal thoughts and experiences. I want to express my thanks that through your book, the hearts and minds of so many people will be opened. You enable a deeper awareness and understanding of the plight of those who are forced to uproot themselves from home and take long and difficult journey's to safety.
Your story answers many questions that people ask, such as why don't people settle in the first 'safe' country? Why would a parent send their child alone? Why do people want to come to the UK?
Your story has the ability to inform and inspire those who work front line with refugee children; highlighting the importance of working in a culturally sensitive way and taking time to consider the multiple layers of trauma and how this presents in young people.
Your story documents the consecutive hurdles that young refugees face and that when people arrive in Europe for safety and protection, the challenges and suffering often continue.
You have done a wonderful job of highlighting the way our UK asylum system, our age assessment processes, our bureaucratic policies compound people's trauma and that despite our commitment to human rights and equality, we still have a huge way to go in offering true protection and sanctuary in the UK.
Your book demonstrates how kindness, sincerity, compassion amongst those who work for organisations, education and in the care system are so crucial. Your story also emphasises the importance of quality child centred advocacy and emotional support for new arrivals.
You have affirmed why 'child voice' will continue to be at the centre of all the work that I do with young refugees.
To me, you epitomise resilience, determination, courage, strength and hope. I'm so proud of everything you have achieved and the work you continue to do to raise understanding of child refugee experiences. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us all.
For more information or to order your copy today, visit: https://gulwalipassarlay.wordpress.com/