Thank you so much to Lantana Publishing for inviting me to take part in the Escape: One day We Had To Run blog tour.
Escape: One Day We Had To Run
Ming & Wah and Carmen Vela
For centuries, people have left their homes for such reasons as famine, slavery, war, intolerance, political turmoil and more recently, climate change. They had two things in common, their determination to search for a better life elsewhere, and their bravery.
This hugely inspiring, timely book tells a dozen stories of some of these seemingly ordinary human beings, starting with sisters Yusra and Sara Martini who fled the war-torn Syrian city of Damascus to Turkey where they boarded an overloaded dinghy bound for Greece. When the boat’s engine failed and to prevent it from capsizing, the girls plunged into the sea. Desperately holding on, and freezing cold, they helped direct the dinghy until it’s engine restarted and it eventually reached the shore. The girls later made it to Germany and Yusra swam in the Refugee Olympic team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Also escaping by sea were Chan Hak-chi and his girlfriend Ly Kit-hing who roped themselves together and swam for six hours across a shark-infested bay to reach Hong Kong, thus escaping famine and persecution in mainland China.
Another twosome was Hans and Margret Rey who, carrying the manuscript for the very first Curious George picture book, fled Paris on bikes just hours before the Nazi invasion of the city, cycling for days to reach the Spanish border from where with the money from selling their bikes they bought train tickets to Lisbon from whence they made their way by boat eventually reaching New York where twelve months later their book was published.
Escaping underground were Joachim Neumann and his girlfriend, members of a group of 57 East german students who tunnelled under the Berlin Wall from East to West Germany and freedom, through what is now known as Tunnel 57.
Those featured on other spreads – each escapee has one – include fleer from Kiribati, Ioane Teitiota, who became the first legal climate change refugee when granted special status by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
However the person I’ve chosen to highlight is Russom Keflezighi. He had supported Eritrean rebels in their protracted attempt to win independence from Ethiopia. Walking overland from war torn Eritrea at his wife’s insistence, Russom Keflezighi left his family, encountering many dangers before reaching Sudan, and then Italy. After five years he was reunited with his family and they settled in the USA where his son later became one of America’s greatest marathon runners.
I just can’t imagine the heartache and pain caused by the decision fleeing father Russom Keflezighi had to make in leaving all his loved ones behind, then walking vast distances every day under constant threat from enemy soldiers until he crossed the border into Sudan. The very thought of leaving behind my own family to do such a thing is just unbearable.
Dramatic, graphic style illustrations by Carmen Vela show escapers swimming, biking, walking, flying even, as they flee danger and this moving book fittingly concludes with two Articles from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to movement and asylum.
ESCAPE: ONE DAY WE HAD TO RUN will be available in all good bookshops in the UK from May 6th and in the USA & CAN from May 4th! OR, buy your copy from Lantana’s online shop and donate a book to children who need books the most with your purchase: www.lantanapublishing.com