I’m very pleased to hear that Far From Home: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution and Poverty (Watts, 2017) has been long listed for the School Library Association Information Book Award 2018.
The book was commissioned in 2015, as the refugee crisis hit the headlines in Europe. It focuses on refugees fleeing war in the Middle East. I wanted to include refugees’ voices to give a sense of what it was like to have to flee your country, the difficult and dangerous journey, and for those who made it, the experience of arriving in a new land.
One story is about 18-year-old Yusra from Syria. On the hazardous boat journey to Greece, the motor failed. Heroic Yusra swam with the boat for three hours until the group reached Greece, helping to save 20 lives. Another is about Shah from Afghanistan. When he arrived in the UK in a lorry aged 18, he didn’t even know which country he had reached. I bring the story close to home, writing about Migrant English Project, where I work as a volunteer teacher. Each week, newly arrived Syrian refugees come to learn English; they are keen to fit in, make the best of their situation and contribute to their host country. By reading individuals’ stories, I hope that readers can put themselves in their shoes and glimpse what their lives are like.
It’s good to note that several other titles about refugees’ experience are also on the SLA long list.