Today is World Refugee Day
World Refugee Day falls on June the 20th every year and honours the courage, resilience and strength of refugees.
The history of refugee resettlement in New Zealand formally began with the intake of 800 Polish people, predominantly orphaned children, during the Second World War in 1944. Since this time New Zealand has continued to receive a range of people from diverse cultures including Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East all of whom have added to the richness of Aotearoa.
We have a wide range of refugee-themed books available at Wellington City Libraries which provide insight into the plight and circumstances of refugees internationally:
The happiest refugee : the extraordinary true story of a boy’s journey from starvation at sea to becoming one of Australia’s best-loved comedians / Anh Do.
“The laugh-out-loud, reach-for-your-hanky story of one of Australia’s best-loved comedians. Anh Do nearly didn’t make it to Australia. His entire family came close to losing their lives on the sea as they escaped from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat. But nothing – not murderous pirates, nor the imminent threat of death by hunger, disease or dehydration as they drifted for days – could quench their desire to make a better life in the country they had dreamed about. Life in Australia was hard, an endless succession of back-breaking work, crowded rooms, ruthless landlords and make-do everything. But there was a loving extended family, and always friends and play and something to laugh about for Anh, his brother Khoa and their sister Tram.”
Across many mountains : a Tibetan family’s epic journey from oppression to freedom / by Yangzom Brauen ; translated by Katy Derbyshire.
“Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country’s youngest Buddhist nuns, she married a monk, had two children, and lived in peace and prayer until the Chinese invasion in 1950 changed everything. Many stories lie hidden until the right person arrives to tell them. In rescuing the story of her now 90-year-old inspirational grandmother and mother, Yangzom Brauen gives us a book full of love, courage, and triumph.” (Library Catalogue)
Birds of clay / Aleksandra Lane.
“This … first collection (in English) mixes powerful lyrics, Serbian proverbs and literary experiments, and moves from the Balkan wars to New Zealand” (Publisher)
“These compelling stories – recounted by former refugees now living in New Zealand – provide a broad presentation of the refugee experience. They describe horrific events and situations, but also reflect the multifarious identities, cultures and strengths of each of the writers. The stories serve to remind us of the importance of humane and ethical behaviour in both our civic and personal lives. They also remind us of the resilience of the human spirit. Notably they teach us about survival, compassion, hope and optimism.” (Syndetics summary)
I shall not hate : a Gaza doctor’s journey on the road to peace and human dignity / Izzeldin Abuelaish.I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity
“Abuelaish, a Palestinian physician and humanitarian whose daughters were killed by Israeli soldiers in 2009 during Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, delivers a memoir that is by turns inspiring and heartbreaking, hopeful and horrifying” (Syndetics)
One of the many people with refugee backgrounds living in our community is Ukyaw Maung, a smiling man from Myanmar, who visits Newtown library every week with his class for reading support. You can read his story on our Community Stories page.