We can’t help but be inundated with political news as America embraces or dreads our new president.
This past week there was a temporary ban on refugees entering the country, creating confusion at the airports, isolating people from their families, and prompting a near immediate lawsuit from the ACLU. We have refugees who are wondering where they are going to be safe or if they will forever be in limbo. As this has made a huge media splash, we need to remember that we have lots of little eyes looking to us to lead them through understanding this situation.
I don’t have all the answers, nor am I going to pretend to but one thing I can help with is a book to help kids understand what being a refugee is and how different life can be.
Four Feet, Two Sandals starts with relief workers leaving clothes and a mad scramble for the refugees to get the best. A young girl, Lina manages to grab one and sees another girl, Feroza has the other. The story is their story; one of friendship, hardship, hope, and one pair of shoes.
The girls haven’t met until each takes a shoe and forge a bond:
“What good is one sandal for two feet?” Feroza frowned.
“You wear them both today, and I will wear them tomorrow.” Lina smiled. “Four Feet, two sandals.”
While their relationship begins with sandals, it is strengthened by the anticipation of being on the list to be relocated to America or Europe and the hope of being safe with their family. They bond while watching Lina’s brothers while Lina’s Mama goes to resettlement meetings. The girls meet daily while waiting in line for water, switch who is wearing the sandals, and talk of life, camp, and the family members who are no longer with them.
The last page Provides author’s note explaining what a refugee is as well this being based on the Afghani refugees fleeing to Pakistan in a camp around Peshawar.
Four Feet, Two Sandals makes the conditions child appropriate of both the flight of the refugees and the camp. While it is mentioned that most walked and no longer have shoes, their feet swollen and cracked, the girls have both experienced the death of close family members, the line for water is long and arduous, and there is an impatient expectation and hope that they will be relocated.
As a parent, teacher, or caregiver you can choose to expound on any of these topics.
The illustrations are beautifully painted with soft outlines and rich desert colors. For me, it softens the conditions these people are living while still giving small details of how life would be. The tents the refugees live in have laundry hanging outside and the line for the well is long. Chayka does a beautiful job on the artwork for this book.
Four Feet, Two Sandals is recommended for 7-10 year olds, and with easy language this age range is definitely more of a consideration of the content. If you feel comfortable with bringing up the subject matter earlier, I’d say that is up to your discretion. I personally will probably introduce this to my kiddo around 4-5 years old and going to school; earlier if we have neighbors or meet people who are refugees.
In this time where we are dealing with refugees who need our help our children are watching to see how we respond.
May Four Feet, Two Sandals help them understand that people seeking asylum are not to be feared and alienated, and may we show them that we will stand up and speak out against injustice and for those who don’t have a voice that is being heard.
If you pick up a copy using this link, we make pennies.