I started this blog in 2012, and when Refugee Week came around that year, I decided to try to publish something every day, either my own writing or a reblog of something interesting I’d found online, about refugees. I’ve done that each year since. It’s a self-imposed challenge that I get anxious about in advance – will I be able to find the time to write, will I find things to write about, will anyone be interested? But once I get started, each year the stories have found me, stories of tragedy and of hope from around the world.
So, this year, I kicked off with an appreciation of Judith Kerr, just because it’s her birthday, and because this year’s theme is #RefugeesContribute. There are other posts brewing. But if you read this and think of a story I should be telling, let me know.
A couple of brief notes, ahead of the next substantial piece:
Michael Grade in the current Radio Times talks about his upcoming Radio 4 programme, where he interviews Kolbassia Haoussou, a refugee from Chad, and now spokesperson for Freedom from Torture. He speaks of his paternal grandparents who left the Ukraine in 1910 and undertook a remarkable, dangerous journey to England, where they built new lives, and where their children, and grandchildren achieved great success . Grade says ‘When I see pictures of boatloads of migrants heading to Europe from North Africa, I think how desperate they must be to risk everything, putting their lives in the hands of the traffickers and their deathtrap boats. I think about how they must be driven to the only option that remotely offers trhe prospect of release from the wars and the militancy and the savagery that goes on in some of these countries. …. So let’s welcome the risk-takers, wherever they may come from. It’s what a bold society does. We have much more to gain than lose’. (Michael Grade, ‘Taking a Chance’, Radio Times 13-19 June 2015).
And yesterday a group of writers, artists and musicians set off on a new pilgrimage, The Refugee Tales will be a unique walk, on paths taken by travellers over the centuries along the North Downs Way from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury, while reflecting on the long and dangerous journeys that many refugees make fleeing war and persecution, seeking a safe place to live. The organisation behind this is the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
I’ll keep writing. If you like it, share, follow, like, retweet, reblog…