The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy"€™s Journey of Escape to A New Life in Britain

The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee Boy"€™s Journey of Escape to A New Life in Britain

Language: English

Pages: 384


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

'To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?'
Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US Army. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali began a twelvemonth odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, making a terrifying journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a young boy alone. In Britain he was fostered, sent to a good school, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012.

Gulwali wants to tell his story - to bring to life the plight of the thousands of men, women and children who are making this perilous journey every day. One boy's experience is the central story of our times. This memoir celebrates the triumph of courage and determination over adversity.

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Things were slightly safer there. Not long after the US troops landed, the aid workers arrived – white Land Cruisers emblazoned with the blue UN sign were everywhere. They started to rebuild clinics and schools. My father conceded this was a good thing but he was still very disapproving that it was ‘foreigners’ who were building this new infrastructure, and not our own government. Girls slowly started to return to school. Under the Taliban they had been banned, and that was all I had known. It

hat. Her grubby face was wet with tears and my heart broke for her. The other two trucks drove away empty. A little further along the road we could see twenty or so Afghan men already there, sitting cross-legged or lying on the ground. The drivers had left us without instructions, so we walked over to them, assuming that was what we were supposed to do. ‘Brothers. Bad luck that they dropped you here,’ one of the migrants shouted in our direction. He spoke Pashtu. ‘We’ve been here a few days

but the doors were blocked by burly guards carrying guns. All I could do was sit down and wait. If my life wasn’t about running, then it was about waiting. My stomach was still in agony. An old man – an Iraqi Kurd – suggested that I eat yoghurt, as it might help. He offered to translate to the guards, who were clearly Turkish Kurds, to bring me some. I watched as he approached them. ‘Excuse me. The boy is sick. He is in a lot of pain. Can you please bring him some yoghurt?’ ‘This is not a

We only had enough money for four tickets. That was a major problem – but I had a plan. When the seven of us climbed aboard the train later that afternoon, three of the men went and hid in the toilets. Shafique and I sat near the other two guys, trying to look innocent and unthreatening. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the conductor. We swapped seats and tickets on several occasions, the guys in the toilets trading places with those in the carriage. I tried to look confident and relaxed

windows to escape. I had been told that Americans were infidels who didn’t follow Islam but as I listened to these stories, I felt sad at the news and thinking about the families of the people who had died. Given my family history of living in refugee camps, I think I had an innate understanding that, wherever they were from, all people suffered in war and conflict. Now, just days after the attack, the US was angry with Afghanistan, blaming us for it. This was because the Taliban were refusing

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