Top 5 books written by refugees, chosen by Gulwali Passarlay

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“This idea that refugee stories are all sad is not true, he says.

Passarlay’s own story was shared in his book, The sky without light, which is filled with joy and hope. Of course, there are sad stories, he says, but the point is not to make others sad.

It’s to make them appreciate their own lives, he says, to put things in perspective, and to share the incredible journeys that many have taken to get here.

Here are the five best Passarlay books written by other refugees.

A story of hope, by Hamed Amiri

Hamed Amiri fled Afghanistan because of the Taliban, crossing Russia on his way to Europe. Due to her brother’s heart disease, the UK was to be the family’s destination, as only Britain and the UK could provide treatment for this rare condition.

In the end, it’s a heartbreaking story, but it shows how far people will go to help those they love. Passarlay found himself in tears watching a stage performance of Hamad’s story, like most spectators.

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“It’s a story of gratitude to the NHS and the security of Britain… at least they were able to get their brother here to treat him. They would have been heartbroken if he had died and they hadn’t at least tried, ”he says.

“The Boy with Two Hearts is a very sad story at the end, and as good as at the beginning, but there is so much laughter too.”

In Wars: From Afghanistan to the UK, A Story of Conflict, Survival and Saving Lives by Dr Waheed Arian

Dr Waheen Arian is an NHS doctor who spent much of his childhood in refugee camps in Pakistan, having left Kabul as a child with his family. He was smuggled into the UK at the age of 15 and told to become a taxi driver.

In this memoir, he talks about his struggles with PTSD and anxiety, and how he managed to become a doctor in the NHS and the founder of a charity that connects doctors in war zones and low-income countries. resources with their counterparts in the US, UK. , Europe and Australia.

“His story is inspiring, he has a lot of wisdom,” says Passarlay. Dr Arian is one of many people “risking their lives in the UK who come from refugee backgrounds, who have struggled to come here and want to give back”.

Hope Not Fear: Finding My Path from Refugee to Filmmaker to NHS Hospital Cleaner and Activist, by Hassan Akkad

“The third will be the book of my friend and colleague militant and militant Hassan Akkad. He’s a really cool guy.

Working as a cleaner in the Covid-19 ward of a London hospital, Akkad’s campaign has been instrumental in causing the government to reverse its decision to exclude the families of cleaners and porters from its workers compensation program. mourning.

This book is Akkad’s trip to the UK and his determination to share his eyewitness accounts as a refugee and hospital cleaner, through his work as a filmmaker.

We are displaced: my journey and the stories of refugee girls around the world, by Malala Yousafzai

This book is basically what Malala did next, having published I Am Malala and became known around the world for her bravery and faith in educating girls. We Are Displaced is a community storytelling, describing the experiences of refugee girls around the world and what it means to live a displaced life.

“It’s not just her story, but the story of other girls like her, and I think it’s great for her to use her platform for others as well,” says Passarlay.

The Sky Without Light, by Gulwali Passarlay

“It took me two years to convince the authorities that I was an Afghan national,” says Passarlay. “I was 13 at the time. And it took me three years before I could be placed with a foster family in Bolton. And I was able to find my brother, which was the main reason I came to UK.

The Lightless Sky depicts her journey from Afghanistan, across the Mediterranean in a small boat, and her twelve month odyssey through Europe to reach the United Kingdom.

Since the publication of The Lightless Sky in 2015, Passarlay has visited around 280 cities across the UK to talk about his book, and nearly 20 countries.

He heard from people who were inspired to volunteer with refugees, to travel from the United States to Greece to help those disembarking on the shores of Lesvos, even people who were inspired to welcome unaccompanied children arriving. UK.

“People tell me that after reading the book, they want to take action. They read The Lightless Sky because they felt sympathy for the refugees, but after reading it they will do something about it.

And that’s what he hopes these memoirs will achieve, not only for readers to sympathize with those who wrote them, but to be prompted to act in defense of their fellow human beings.


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