Since the opening up of South Africa, the country has become home to many refugees from the coups and civil wars of the rest of Africa. The most vulnerable of these are the children, some of who have arrived in South Africa without parents, family or friends. They face a daunting challenge to find acceptance, and a home, in this strange, sometimes hostile adoptive country.
Glynis Clacherty has become involved with a number of such children in Johannesburg. To help them deal with the trauma of their flight and arrival she provided them with suitcases on which to paint their personal stories and recent histories. These suitcases and the accompanying stories are the subject of this warm, challenging book.
Photographs of the painted suitcases together with narratives collected over a period of three years through interviews reveal a series of individual stories of hardship and longing, strength and resilience, and provide a unique insight into the past and present worlds of refugee children in South Africa.
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GLYNIS CLACHERTY is a researcher who specializes in participatory work with children. She has spent the last ten years working with children all over southern Africa on issues such as HIV/AIDS, child work, violence against children, poverty and migration. Much of this work has allowed children’s voices to be heard in the creation of new policy and laws. She started the Suitcase Project, a psychosocial support through art project, in 2001 with refugee children in Hillbrow. This is where she met the children whose stories are told in this book.
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