World Refugee Day falls on June 20, a day to honour the courage, strength and resilience of more than 50 million people around the world. Aotearoa New Zealand has a long history of accepting refugees, starting with the Polish orphans during the Second World War. Imagine losing everything simply because of your race, ethnicity or beliefs.
Here is a selection of adult and children’s books we have in our collection, both fiction and non-fiction.
Give us this day : a memoir of family and exile / Helena Wiśniewska Brow.
“In June 1944, when 14-year-old Stefan Wisniewski stood by his mother’s dusty Tehran grave, he knew his world was about to change again, forever. Give Us This Day: A Memoir of Family and Exile explores the story of one of the 732 Polish child survivors of wartime Soviet deportation offered unlikely refuge in New Zealand. Seventy years later, and no closer to a longed-for Polish homecoming, Stefan’s New Zealand-born daughter revisits his past. What is the burden her father has carried all these years? And why is he unable–or unwilling–to let it go? With an aging father and the ghost of a namesake aunt as her guides, Helena Wisniewska Brow searches for meaning in the family lives shaped by exile: her father’s, her mother’s, and her own.” (Syndetics summary)
Stefania’s dancing slippers / Jennifer Beck ; [illustrated by] Lindy Fisher.
“As a five-year-old in Poland, Stefania loved to dance, but war came and her father went away to fight. Then she and her mother were sent to work camps in Siberia. The two struggled through until they were released and allowed to travel south again. But now her mother is sick and Stefania must leave her. At the parting Stefania drops one of her precious dancing slippers. She holds on to her one remaining slipper as a link to home and her parents as she is finally sent to the other side of the world – NZ. At the age of twelve, Stefania finally hears news of her parents and there is a reunion but it’s not a totally happy ending. Her mother had returned to Poland and now that country is closed.” (Syndetics summary)
Walking with a fragile heart : short stories and poems by young refugees in New Zealand / edited by Pauline Frances.
“WALKING WITH A FRAGILE HEART is the third book published by Refugee Trauma Recovery. It has seven young people, all former refugees originating from Afghanistan, Burma (Karen people), Ethiopia and Rwanda, sharing their stories not just about their journey to Aotearoa New Zealand, but also their experiences settling in NZ. A special and extra feature of the book is the addition of poems composed by the same writers. Dame Fiona Kidman has written the preface which states as follows: “All the stories and poems moved me deeply. I am glad that this written record now exists, and commend all who have contributed to it.”” (Syndetics summary)
The rose hotel : a memoir of secrets, loss, and love from Iran to America / Rahimeh Andalibian.
“Andalibian struggles to make sense of two brutal crimes: a rape, solved by her father, and a murder, of which her beloved oldest brother stands accused. She takes us first into her family’s tranquil, jasmine-scented days of prosperity in their luxury hotel in Mashhad, Iran. Their life is ruptured by the 1979 revolution as they flee: first to the safety of a mansion in Tehran, next to a squalid one-room flat in London, and finally to California, where they suffer a different kind of revolution. Struggling to adjust to a new host culture, they soon discover that although they escaped Iran, they are not free from their own lies and hidden truths. As the family comes to grips with their new home, the strength of their bonds are tested by love, loyalty, compassion, hate, pain, loss–and the will to survive. Heartbreaking and intimately told, this is a universal story of healing, rebirth after tragedy, and hard-won redemption” (Provided by publisher)
Teacup / Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley.
“Once there was a boy who had to leave home… and find another. In his bag he carried a book, a bottle and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play. This is one boy’s story of leaving his homeland, surviving a long journey by sea… and finding a safe, new place to call home..” (Syndetics summary)
A man of good hope / Jonny Steinberg.
“In January 1991, when civil war came to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, two-thirds of the city’s population fled. Among them was eight-year-old Asad Abdullahi. His mother murdered by a militia, his father somewhere in hiding, he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that scattered the Somali people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the world. This … book tells Asad’s story, [from a childhood living in a bewildering number of places to an adulthood of financial and romantic success]”–Dust jacket flap.
Hamid’s story … : a real-life account of his journey from Eritrea / created by Andy Glynne ; illustrated & designed by Tom Senior.
“This is the story of Hamid who was forced to flee with his mother from war-torn Eritrea. It is the story of how they arrived in the UK as refugees with no understanding of the language and culture, and how they rebuilt their lives. When Hamid starts school, it is difficult at first, but then he makes some friends and things start to get better. But the horrors of the war in Eritrea are never far from their thoughts as the family learn of the death of Hamid’s father.” (Syndetics summary)
What is the what : the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng : a novel / Dave Eggers.
“In a heartrending and astonishing novel, Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee now living in the United States. We follow his life as he’s driven from his home as a boy and walks, with thousands of orphans, to Ethiopia, where he finds safety — for a time. Ultimately, Valentino finds safety in Kenya and, just after the millennium, is finally resettled in the United States, from where this novel is narrated. In this book, written with expansive humanity and surprising humor, we come to understand the nature of the conflicts in Sudan, the refugee experience in America, the dreams of the Dinka people, and the challenge one indomitable man faces in a world collapsing around him.” (Syndetics summary)
How can you help empower people from refugee backgrounds to achieve their goals and contribute to their new home in Aotearoa, New Zealand?
If you would like to know how you can help a family who has lost everything to start again, visit the Red Cross website to find out more.