A collection of fairy tales which was written by child refugees in Greece has now gone on sale to help the book’s authors. The travelling tales feature a king who grew to love animals, a rugby-playing dog and chickens fighting an alien invasion among it’s eight stories.
The ideas came directly from the children, but Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz combined their love of words and illustrations to create the book.
Debora did some workshops at three refugee camps close to Thessaloniki in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro with Syrian and Kurdish children who were aged between four and fourteen years old.
The workshop gave the children something to do without focusing on their lives.
“The idea was not to have the children talk about their journeys or experiences fleeing war, at least not directly,” Debora said. “It was to let them tell the stories they wanted to, in ways they chose themselves.
“I think it’s important for young people to engage with one another. Children all over the world are watching the refugee situation, or hearing it on news programmes their parents watch and listen to, and as well as hoping it would be an interesting project for the children at the camps, I wanted to do something so the children outside of the crisis could see the children caught up in it on their own terms, as children with fun and interesting stories, just like they are.”
In the Travelling Princess, Amira shuns her loyal title only to live as a poor person that gives away gold she found while exploring the world.
In the Alien vs Chicken story, the Earth is under attack from extraterrestrials that want to steal all the chicken eggs in the world. The chickens are not happy that humans are relieved about the alien’s demands so they fight back, reclaiming the eggs. The story was written by Shahd who is nine-year-old and lives in the military camp of Lagadikia. Debora describes the stories as “full of adventures.”
“Her creativity reminds us that there are heroes even where we least expect to find them.”
“We spent four months with the children,” Debora added. “In some cases, the children spoke English very well, and had quite clear ideas of their stories. In others, we worked with a translator, and also spent time with them to help them develop their ideas, to make the stories hold together better.
“But the point was that these are the stories of the children, so we didn’t change their words, or add anything they did not include themselves.”
To bring the stories to life, five professional illustrators helped, including Beatriz. The book was published just last month in English, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch. It is for sale via Amazon priced at £10.
The money collected will be used to help support projects that look for alternative housing solutions for the military camps.