This is the story of one of our world’s tens of millions of refugees.
Hamzat is a young man now, 20 years old. Born in 1993 in Chechnya, Hamzat tells us the story of his life and how it dramatically changed in one, tragic moment, on April 20, 2001.
From his earliest years, Hamzat’s people — the Chechens — were fighting the Russians and his life always bore the burdens of war — hunger, fear, lack of essentials, bombed out buildings, blocked sewers, hiding, explosions. This was the norm for him and thousands of other children in Chechen communities.
Hamzat tells us the story of his early life, his vague memories of the accident, the long process of surgeries and recovery, and the new way of life he has had to learn. Towards the end of 2001, he and his father were helped by a charity to fly to England where better prosthetics were available. In time, his family was granted asylum and began living together in London. At the end of Hamzat’s story, his family was still considering whether to stay longer in the UK, or return to their home in Chechnya.
Told in his own steady words, this is a poignant, eye-opening story of what life is like for millions of children afflicted by wars in their home towns. Hamzat’s voice is calm, matter-of-fact, looking toward the future, while he relates concrete details that help us better understand his experience. It’s a wonderful book that’s part of a series on refugees. You can read more about the other books in the series at this link from the illustrator.
Photos of Hamzat’s family are virtual-paperclipped to the pages of this “diary” and June Allan has also contributed beautiful watercolor illustrations with a sketchbook feel. It’s a very nice package, accessible to mid-elementary children and up. A list of facts about Chechnya and a brief history of their conflict with Russia are included.
Excellent glimpse of the realities of life in this world, which our, for the most part, safe, snug children should know and care about.
Here’s an Amazon link: