The Refugee Diary Series
The MF (now Freedom from Torture) has collaborated on a series of books aimed at children over eight which highlight the plight of refugee children who are forced to flee their homes. The Refugee Diaries are a beautifully illustrated and highly acclaimed series of four books, each telling the true story of a child who has sought and found sanctuary in the UK.
"These stories in The Refugee Diary Series need to be told and we, and the rest of the world, need to listen' ~ Armadillo Magazine
Series editor Annemarie Young said: "In order to find four stories which could be turned into books we interviewed over thirty children and their families. We were put in touch with people by the Red Cross and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. We realised immediately that some of the children's stories were simply too violent or tragic but we were able to find four which were diverse but also representative." The books are told in the child's own voice so the reader understands that the children are ordinary people just like them.
The books have been a useful tool in schools to raise understanding of the experiences of asylum seekers and to highlight the trauma people undergo due to conflicts far from our shores.
Written by Anthony Robinson and illustrated by June Allan, the books have had raft of excellent reviews.
Former Medical Foundation client, Hamzat's story begins with a brief and stark outline of how, in April 2001, whilst on his way to school with two friends, the young Chechen boy stepped on a landmine and was badly injured and his two friends were killed. One reviewer stated that this story of suffering and courage is so remarkable, no-one could read Hamzat's Journey and come away unmoved or unchanged by the terrible experiences related.
Using Hamzat's story the reality of war is brought home with a mixture of photographs and watercolours, a medium used in all the books, which effective as well as informative. There is no escaping the violence of conflict in the 21st century using this imagery, although it is not too graphic for the intended audience.
Mohammed is another former client of the Medical Foundation and in his account we follow the young Iraqi Kurd as he flees Iraq with his mother following the arrest and subsequent disappearance of his father in 2000. Again it is written in very simple and accessible language but Mohammed himself has a very powerful way with words as this opening account attests to. "My mum's brother was killed by Ali Hassan, a relative of Saddam Hussein."