Under the Red Shawl
New Frontier, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99
On the day that Salim was born everyone was leaving town, looking for a safer place, and so Mama wrapped him tightly in her red shawl and, with a few precious things packed onto the donkey, joined the exodus…
Based on many stories told by children in Africa and the Middle East to the author during her work with World Vision, sadly this is more than just Salim’s story and as we watched the families fleeing Gaza, it is one that is common and continuous. While the reasons for leaving may differ, nevertheless there are several constants regardless of the people involved – there is the love of parents for their children that protects the little ones regardless of the hardships that the adults might encounter and endure; the friendliness of strangers and the willingness to open their doors; and the belief that there is a better, safer place somewhere.
So while this is Salim’s story of a journey, it is also the story of so many – including that of many of our students.
While there will be those with anxiety about starting a new school in the new year, or moving to another town and having to leave and then build friendships, that can be put onto perspective somewhat by imagining what it would be like to have to leave and have no idea where you’re going or what you might face. How do you keep your dreams alive?
As with Amira’s Suitcase, Vikki Conley has brought the reality of the world of the refugee child right into the realm of more fortunate children, but has tempered it with layers of love and friendship and hope for they are the elements that connect us regardless of belief or circumstance.