Randomly Chosen Religious Reads - No 9

The Lightless Sky

My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee
Gulwali Passarlay with Nadene Ghouri

Gulwali Passarlay was a young Afghan Muslim boy of twelve when his mother told him and his older brother, after
the death of their father, that if they valued their lives, they would have to flee the country in order to escape the
clutches of either the American Army or the Taliban.

After an extraordinary journey through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France, Gulwali eventually
reached the horrendous ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais. From there he managed to gain access to a lorry carrying bananas
which was bound for Dover. Fortunately the refrigeration on the lorry was turned off, otherwise he would have
frozen to death. The authorities in Kent could not and would not believe that he was only thirteen and they
repeatedly documented him as being sixteen or over. Eventually he was sent to a hostel in Bolton for refugee
children where he was given a kindly welcome. (Sadly, due to austerity cuts, the hostel is now closed).
He went on to study at Manchester University and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for his adopted homeland
in Burnley in 2012. His ambition is to return to Afghanistan as Prime Minister.

His inspiring and remarkable memoir gives the reader an invaluable insight into one of the most pressing issues of
our time – that of the hordes of refugees fleeing countries caught up in conflict and chaos in order to reach the
relative safety and security of Europe. I can heartily recommend this book – a tremendous and enthralling read.

Colin Douglas

November 2016
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