Monday, March 28, 2011

Lives torn apart

With so much going on in the Middle East right now, reading Out of Iraq: refugees’ stories in words, paintings and music by Sybella Wilkes (956.7 WiO 2010) made the situation much more real and immediate. These are regular folks who fear for their lives and those of their families and are under constant threat of violence. Their misery and fears are palpable.  Most are living as refugees in Syria and this makes me wonder how they are surviving the revolution that now grips Syria.

This is primarily a collection of personal stories, told by the Iraqi refugees in their own words, through photographs, paintings, drawings and music.  The author also includes an overview of what life was like under the rule of Saddam Hussein, why the Americans and their allies felt justified invading Iraq in 2003 and the impact the invasion has had on Iraqi civilians.  Many of the people who tell their stories are artists and share their fears, confusion, and homesickness through their art.  Some of the instability and violence is generated by Iraqis themselves, the result of differing religions.  Many still express hope for the future in spite of family members killed, families divided, homes lost, job opportunities restricted or nonexistent and living with constant, grinding fear.

At the back, there are suggestions for using this book as a classroom resource, which would help kids connect with the situation and experiences that many of the people in the book have lived, and are living, through.


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