A collection of true stories of people who left the Middle East and Africa seeking refuge in the West, highlighting their risky journeys and motivations for leaving, as well as of the volunteers who created the book and what inspired them to get involved.
Accompanied by captivating photographic portraits, the stories illustrate the volume of suffering endured and witnessed by the interviewees. A pregnant woman crosses the border, traveling by boat with her children and afraid for their lives, to give birth in a refugee camp. A university professor flees for the sake of his family’s safety after witnessing his friends die in the war. These are just a few of the stories of refugees, young and old. Common threads are the resilience of the protagonists, the search for a dignified life with the ability to work, the desire to reunite with family, and the inhumanity and exploitation of smugglers. Many stories are incredibly touching and accessible, but with a cost. Their brevity—and perhaps editing—potentially simplifies the complexity of human agency. The absence of refugees of the depicted crisis in the creative team interestingly highlights the stories of the two groups as separate and may reinforce the subjectivity and otherness of the refugees. Also, a pronounced focus on religious-based violence as cause for refuge (mainly Islam) and religion as a source of strength (mainly Christianity) reinforces some unfortunate dominant Western narratives.
A heartening and sometimes overwhelming introduction to refugee voices, with accessible stories that may simplify the complexity of human agency and situations leading to seeking refuge. (Nonfiction. 14-adult)