The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre is distributing two beautiful children’s books, When I was a Girl in Sudan and When I was a Boy in Sudan.
The books are part of a three-year collaborative project between the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre, writers, an illustrator, a designer and the Southern Sudanese (Ma’di) community. They were launched to a huge turnout as part of Refugee Week in 2014 and featured nationally on the ABC’s Stateline program.
The books capture the essence of childhood in a Sudanese village and are stories from the memories of Paskalina Eiyo and Sarafino Enadio, written together with Terry Whitebeach and combine both Ma’di and English. Gay McKinnon has provided the exquisite illustrations for both books and Julie Hawkins donated her time to design the books. They represent hours of work; running workshops with Sudanese children living in Hobart, conversations with Ma’di elders, interviews and research by a team of passionate writers, illustrators and Sudanese storytellers. Ninna Milikin also produced a short film covering the early stages of the project.
The books are $15 each and are available locally at Matilda’s Bookshop in Stirling and also via the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre website.
The TWC has printed 4,000 books; half are being sold in Australia and the other 2,000 will be shipped to South Sudan. For every book sold in Australia, the funds will assist in paying freight for books to reach children and schools in Southern Sudan.
The interest in these books is immense – people are buying the books for their children and grandchildren simply because they are beautiful, and the stories are so heart warming and family-oriented. And we have had reports from educators and those who work with refugees, that the books are also having a healing effect, opening pained hearts to recall and begin to recount more happy times before war intruded; and leaps in literacy are being made with familiar material enhancing the ability to learn to read in English.