Welcome to my website!

Hi!  I am converting my educational stories blog into a website so that people can find and buy my books, as well as read my stories online. Join the half a million viewers who have enjoyed this site.

The stories all come to me when I ASK IN MEDITATION for help on a particular subject.   Guides and helpers from all over the world have heard my call, and over the years have provided me with well over 100 stories.  Many are funny, some are poignant, and truly touch the heart.  They reflect different cultures and attitudes.  I am hoping that more people can learn to get in touch with those Higher Realms as it seems to me that the World could certainly do with some extra help right now.

Here is my latest book, due to be published in Autumn 2019

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This blog is about learning through stories

Welcome to the Home Page on my Stories Blog.

My blog is a collection of useful stories for educating children (and adults) in codes of conduct, life lessons, and therapeutic situations.  It is inspired by ‘The Rules of Life’ from Yoga texts, the Ten Commandments from the Bible and the Five Universal Human Values from Buddhist texts.

I am  upgrading the Home page in order to turn ‘Yoga Stories’ into a website to direct people to my new book as well as to enable them to find my educational stories.

Please scroll down through the categories on the right to find what you are looking for or use the search tool, top right of blog page.  Search words or tags will find many subjects of educational importance on my blog  –  eg non violence, empathy, tell the truth, punctuality and so on.

I hope you enjoy the stories!

Yogastories Book getting ready for publication!

I started this blog off in 2008 when I first published my book on yoga stories as an online book, Guptananda’s Stories.

It has had nearly half a million readers.  I am now in my 70th year and I have decided to turn it into a paperback book.  The stages of doing this have been fascinating and challenging.  I have been working with the Author’s Learning Centre, an American company that helps would-be authors to learn how to write and publish books. This service has been very useful indeed, familiarising me with all the different processes and terms that an author needs to learn and go through.

Because Guptananda’s Stories was already written, my first task in 2018 was to get feedback on it.  As it had 43 stories, I asked volunteer readers to just read two stories each and to give me their reactions.  As a result I decided to reduce the material in order to have Book 1 on the Laws of Life, suitable for all readers whether they are interested in yoga or not.  Book 2 will be about  three aspects of yoga tradition – the 8 Limbs of Yoga,  the Gunas and lastly the Chakras.

 I have also taken out the ‘Guidance’ aspect of the old book, and replaced it with questions for readers to ask themselves,  so avoiding lecturing or being ‘preachy’, as that is not my purpose or my plan. 

I hope you enjoy the new book at least as much as people liked the first edition!  It will be available through Amazon soon.  I am waiting to see what happens regarding Brexit first, before I publish it.

Reconstruction of Blog to create a website for my new book

The Great Little Book of Yoga Stories will be published shortly.

I need to tell the world about my book via my blog.  I have spent the last year working on it, and now I’m learning how to turn this blog into a sales website, in addition to having all my other stories still available.  Please keep an eye on my blog if you are interested in having a book which explains the yoga ‘rules of life’ or the Yamas and Niyamas.  It is ideal for yoga teachers, and young people who are interested in yoga, or in living a spiritual life which does not involve a particular religion.

Sal wants a new mouse – a story to educate children about marriage between people of different races, for kids of 5- 10 years old.

Sal Wants a New Mouse

dizzy mouse001

 Sal peeped into the mouse cage. Dizzy didn’t come over for a stroke or even move a whisker, she just sat in the corner looking sad.

“ Mum, I don’t think Dizzy is happy since Dosey died. She needs another mouse to play with!”

“You could be right, Sal, perhaps she’s a lonely mouse now. Shall we go down to the pet shop and get her a new friend?”

Sal jumped up and down, “Oh yes, please, I’ll go and tell Sam, can we go now?”

“We’ll go after lunch, Sal. You and Sam can take out her cage to the garden and clean it, so the new mouse will have a sweet smelling home.”

“Oh, we don’t like that job,” said Sal.

“You know we agreed you can have a mouse or two as long as you look after them. I’m certainly not getting you another one if you don’t look after the one you have.”

Sal sat on the settee for a moment and thought about how she loved to play with her mouse. She imagined not being able to lie on the floor and have her mouse crawl round her hair, and being able to hold it close and sniff its woffley nose.   She sighed a big sigh.

“Ok mum, we’ll do it now.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” said her mum. She winked at Sal and swished her long blonde hair off her face as she tackled the washing up.

Sal ran out to find her brother, Sam. “Sam, we can have another mouse, Mum said so, but we have to clean the cage first.”

“Yuk,” said Sam, “that’s a stinky job!”

“Only ‘cos you wouldn’t help me clean her out last week. I left it.”

Sam’s eyes grew wide, “But I heard you tell Mum you did it!”

Sal’s eyes looked at the floor, “I know, I shouldn’t tell fibs, but I was cross with you, don’t tell Mum, will you Sam?”

Her big brown eyes filled with tears. Sal felt very ashamed.

“Oh, all right,” said Sam, he didn’t like to see his sister unhappy. “As long as you let me name the new mouse. I want to call him Frederico.”

“Oh I don’t think it’s going to be a boy! Dad said if there was a boy and a girl mouse together, when they grew up they would soon have babies, and he said we didn’t want baby mice because we wouldn’t be able to find a home for them,” said Sal.

“Then we could have lots of mice to to play with, YES!” said Sam punching the air with his fist.

The two cleaned the cage out and after lunch they went to the pet shop with their mum.

There was a young girl serving, she said the boss had gone out, and she would be in charge of selling the mice. She said they had just one black mouse at the moment.

“We’d like the black mouse, as long as it’s a girl,” said Sal’s mum. The sales girl picked up the mouse and looked under its tail. I think that’s a girl,” she said. “Let’s take it, Mum, this might be our only chance to give Dizzy a friend,” said Sal.

They took the mouse home and put it in with Dizzy, who got very excited and started running all over her cage and sniffing the new mouse, which Sam called Frederica, a girl’s name.   The children were very pleased with their two mice.

The children’s dad came home after work, “ Ah, what a pretty black mouse, he said, “I hope it’s a she and not a he!”

“Ah, you like her ‘cos she’s black like you,” said Sam. His dad smiled and said, “ I would like her if she was white, black or brown, I like every colour of mouse!”

Dizzy was very happy again. After a just few weeks Sal said to her mum, “ I think Dizzy has been greedy, she’s been eating too many sunflower seeds, she’s quite fat now!”

dizzy mouse001

“Is that right? Oh dear, we’ll have to keep an eye on her then.”

Some mouse babies were born the next day, all hidden away in a tight little nest. “Frederica can’t be a girl after all,” said Sal, “We’ll have to call her Frederico instead!”

Their dad said ‘How come the pet shop got it so wrong. Never mind, I like it that the mum is white and the dad is black, just like our family. It will be interesting to see what colour the babies are, they’re all pink at the moment”

“Perhaps they will be a nice brown colour like we are,” said Sam.

“What ever colour they will be beautiful. We can give them to the pet shop man,” said Mum, “he needs some mice. I think Frederico needs a new home too, unless we want to have more mice.”

Sam and Sal looked at each other and thought about all the mouse cages they might be cleaning out. “Lets give the babies to the pet shop man, and Frederico too, and ask for a proper girl mouse this time!”

“Good idea,” said Mum, so that’s what they did.

 

Ask questions appropriate to the age of the listeners

Does this story remind you of anything in your life? 

In what ways were the Dizzy and Frederico different?

In what ways were Sal and Sam’s mum and dad different?

What different races can you think of, or what skin colours can people have?  

Do all human beings have the same feelings? What are they? 

Do all people have the same needs? What are they?

 

Ask any other suitable questions to educate the children about Bi-racial, or mixed race families. You might talk about the different races living in different parts of the world, and how over the years people travel to different countries and get married to people from those countries, and have children which look different from their parents because they are a mixture of two races.

If you enjoyed this story please press the like button!

A story for a young child developing OCD habits:

 

Craig moves to a different tree house

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Craig was a koala bear. He lived in a thick green forest, or some might call it a jungle. He had a home in a large and beautiful gum tree. His mother and father live there too, and his big sister. One day his mother said it was too hot in the tree and that the family would be moving away to a cooler place. Craig was sad to leave his tree but he didn’t mind being cooler. They settled into a smaller place. Craig thought it was okay but life became very different.   Craig’s dad had to learn all sorts of new things in their new part of the forest, and was often late home and tired. Craig’s sister had to go to a new school , because she was older than him and Craig was not able to go everywhere and do everything with her any more. He felt sad.

koala sad 01

His mother was going out to work while he was at school and was tired and sometimes cross. He began to wonder if it was his fault that his family was not around him like they had been before in the big tree. He started to think he needed to be a better koala person. What could he do to make himself better so that they would all come back and have time for him again? He had heard often enough that he should be clean and tidy. He wondered if he wasn’t clean and tidy enough. He started to worry every time his hands were dirty that other bears would not like him. He started wanting to wash his hands after he touched things that might be dirty. He always washed his hands before he sat down to eat his food. His mum told him that even though he couldn’t see the dirt it was there just the same, so he should wash his hands. His mum always said he was a good bear when he said he had washed his hands before eating. He liked to think that she thought he was a good bear. He started to imagine that all sorts of things could make his hands dirty, and he didn’t want to be dirty, he wanted to be good bear. So he started to wash his hands after he did all sorts of things, thinking about all the invisible dirt there must be around.

He started to keep his toys very very tidy so that he would know if any of them had been touched by someone else, because if they had then he would have to wash his hands if he played with them.

One day a kind lady koala who was a doctor came round to talk to his mother as she was worried about Craig always washing his hands all the time. The doctor explained to Craig that koalas and even people all are actually very strong and their bodies know how to get rid of dirt even if they swallow some. Nobody needs to be ‘extra extra’ clean. Too much washing can make your skin go dry and sore. You don’t need to be afraid of a little dirt. Mum will still love you even if you do have sticky hands. Sometimes mums and dads get very busy and tired and so do sisters, but you need to understand how they are feeling. Things have changed for them too. They aren’t in the big tree any more, just like you. Life doesn’t stay the same all the time. When changes happen we all need to change too. We need to think what we can do to help each other when big changes happen.

‘What do you think you could do that could help your mum and your sister?’

‘I could stop running the taps and wasting water for Mum,’ said Craig.

‘Ah, so you know she doesn’t want you to be so extra extra clean?’ asked the doctor.

‘Yes I do really. She says I got into a bad habit. I waste water.’

‘Ah, I see, and what about your sister?’

‘Well she doesn’t like all the water on the toilet floor all the time, she gets cross with me for that.’

‘So do you see a way of making your mum and sister happy now?’

‘Yes I think so.’

‘And can you be happy not washing your hands every five minutes?’

‘Yes I can. You tell me my body is strong and it can just eat up those germs, well I’ll let my body do that now. And if mum is tired, I’ll just cuddle up quietly and let her have a rest. I don’t really like washing my hands all the time. Now you’ve explained I know they will still love me even if I’m a bit dirty.’

‘That’s right, Craig, they will always love you. You won’t forget that now, will you?’

Questions:

Where did Craig used to live?

When his family moved what changed? How did that make Craig feel do you think?  

What did Craig think his mother would say if he told her he had washed his hands before eating?  

Craig started to wash his hands more often than he needed to because he wanted his mum to think he was a good bear. He was worried that perhaps it was his fault that his mum and sister couldn’t spend so much time with him. He was trying to be a better bear. It wasn’t his fault at all. Things just change sometimes, and it’s nobody’s fault.

Other questions and other advice may be appropriate.

 

 

Paddy starts school with a cold potato in his pocket. A story for school starters of 5 years old

Paddy starts school with a cold potato in his pocket

Well hello, you can call me Paddy. I hear you are starting school soon. That will be grand. Things were different in my day. We had to walk to school, or if we were very lucky my dad would put us on the horse. Two kids up on the saddle and two walking, we would take it in turns to ride. I expect you will get taken to school by your mammy, or you may catch a school bus.

On my first day my mam gave me a cold potato for my pocket. That was to be my dinner, but I didn’t really understand that. When it came to dinner time I had nothing to eat as I ate my potato at playtime. Oh dear! I was sad and hungry. I sat on the floor and hid my face. A kind lady spoke to me.

‘Where is your tatty? she asked. ‘Did you eat it before?’

I nodded my head.

‘Awww, never mind. Here I’ve got one for you. You are not the only one you know.’

She sat me down at a table with several other new wee ones. She passed round a bowl with warm potatoes in it. Soon we were all smiling again.

‘ I’ll tell your mammy and your teacher,’ said the kind lady, ‘then you will know when to eat your dinner.’

I had a great day, I was happy at school. They had lots of crayons and games and books to look at. We played games in the playground and I soon got to know the names of the other children in my class.

When I got home I told my mam about the potato. She smiled and said how kind the lady was to give us all another one. She told me that next time I could just bite off the end of my tatty if I was hungry at playtime and I must wait until dinner time to eat the rest of it. She said the nice lady would not have potatoes to give away every day and I had to learn to wait for dinner time to eat mine.

Questions:

Who was the story about?

What was Paddy given for dinner by his mam?

Why was he sad at dinner time?

Was he the only one with no dinner?

What did the kind lady give to the children who didn’t have a tatty for their dinner?

What did Paddy need to remember about his potato the next day?

What nice things did Paddy do on his first day at school?

Wu and the journey. A story for 9 to 11 year olds, about integrity

Wu and the Journey.

tight rope story001

I am Wang Cheng. Although I am 40 years of age now I well remember my childhood. Chinese parents were allowed to have only one child as the population was growing out of control. The government were very strict about this. If parents went ahead and had two or more children, families could be split up, fined, or punished in other ways. All my friends were from single child families. This meant that all eyes were on the one child. Grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, they were all watching and tutting about my behaviour (and that of my friends in their own families). There was a lot of pressure to behave ‘just so’ to try to please everyone. I must say I did my best to make my family happy. I liked it when my grandma put her hand on my shoulder and said to me “Wang, I am very proud of you!” Or when my father took me fishing for the day because as he said “I know you can behave yourself, not like your friend Wu. What are his parents thinking of letting him come and go and do what ever he likes to do?”

My friend Wu was my hero. I just loved the way he was so bold and daring. He did things I did not have the courage to do. I was always afraid that someone might tell me off. I was afraid of tearing my clothes or getting dirty, or of trying anything new in case I could not do it well, and my parents would be disappointed in me.

Wu’s parents had plenty of money but not much time, so they employed maidservants to look after Wu. Actually it was a string of maids that they had one after the other. These girls were very inexperienced in looking after children and they would just let Wu do what he wanted to do. He learned that if he screamed and shouted they would agree to let him do almost anything.

Wu decided he was going to have his own circus. He set up a wire in his backyard with the help of the gardener. It wasn’t very high, just a few centimetres off the ground. He soon discovered that it was quite easy to balance on it and to walk along it. When he fell off it didn’t matter as the ground was very close. He told me I should have a go, but I was afraid as usual. It would have been easy enough but I didn’t want to get drawn into his tricks.

tight rope story001

Soon the gardener helped Wu to raise the wire a bit. It was as high as the seat of a stool now. He could still walk along it and if he fell off he had a safe way of falling, he said. I told him he should show his parents, they would be proud of him.

‘No,’ said Wu, ‘they don’t care what I do. They are so busy working they are too tired to bother with me.’

Wu very much wanted his parents to care about what he did, so he started to dream up a plan. He didn’t think they would care for all his circus skills, his juggling, somersaults and high wire act. He decided to save his money and go on a train journey and then they would have to go and find him. They would have to take some time off work and go looking for him. He liked that idea.

‘You must come with me’, he said to me, ‘ I’m off to Chengdu. I have an uncle there. I don’t know exactly where he lives but someone will know him I’m sure.’

Wu told the maid what his plans were. Of course she didn’t believe him as he was always making up stories. He used to lie about all sorts of things to get attention. She just said  ‘Chengdu is a very big city, you will get lost there. You don’t even know where you live yourself let alone where to find your uncle!’

Wu stopped and had a think. ‘Well, will you write my address down for me so when I want to come back I can show the ticket man at the station?’

The maid laughed at his game and wrote his address down on a piece of card.

‘Look after it,’ she said, ‘or you might never come back!’

Wu came to find me to take me with him on his journey. I refused to go. I thought it was a bad idea although I would have loved to have gone with him. I thought my parents would be too worried if I just went off.

Wu disappeared. I ran to tell my grandma what had happened. She had heard so many things about what Wu had said he was going to do, but never did.

She said, ‘Don’t worry Wang, he’ll be back for his supper.’ I was not so sure.

That night Wu’s father came knocking at our door.

‘Is Wu here?’ he asked.

It was unusual to see him, he usually sent the maid to our place to bring Wu back for his meals.

‘No, he came and told me he was off to Chengdu,’ I said.

‘That’s right,’ said Grandma, ‘more of his nonsense!’

‘You mean you let him go?’ said Wu’s father.

‘Wu has told us so many fanciful things about what he is going to do, I have never tried to stop him because he never does them anyway and because it’s not my place to stop him. It is his parents place – yours.’ Grandma replied.

Wu’s father went red and then he turned white. He looked afraid. ‘He said he was going to catch the train?’

‘That’s what he said, but I didn’t believe him, where would he get the money for a ticket?’ said my Grandma.

Wu’s father rushed off. His wife had recently sacked the previous maid for stealing money. Perhaps Wu has been stealing the money.

Much later Wu told me about what happened that day. He had set off on the train to Chengdu. People were curious about him. They all wanted to know where he was going. They said he was too young to travel alone. He told them he was going to stay with his uncle.

‘Where does your uncle live?’ asked a woman kindly.

‘I don’t know,’ said Wu, ‘someone will know him. Someone will tell me where he lives when I get there.’

The whole carriage has been listening, they burst out laughing; some looked concerned, and some laughed cruelly .

The kind woman asked Wu where he lived. He showed her the piece of card.

‘Where are your parents?’

‘They work all day.’

She looked at his nice clothes and shoes. ‘They will be worried about you, you should go home.’

Wu told me he felt like crying. ‘Yes.’ he said, ‘but I don’t know how to go home.’

The woman looked at the piece of card with Wu’s address on it. ‘I know this place,’ she said, ‘I will take you home.’

They left the train at the next station and climbed onto one going in the opposite direction. Wu was relieved to see his own station, a place he recognised from meeting his father when he had been away. They started to move through the crowds.

‘ Wu!’ He heard his father’s voice shouting his name. Well, he went home with his father, the kind lady disappeared, and Wu cried all the way home.

His father did not know what to say but gradually the whole story came out and Wu’s parents realised that their son was brave and clever, but needed more of their time and attention. He needed their guidance about telling the truth and about stealing. He needed to know about having a good reputation, or a bad one. His parents had to explain that if you do things which give you a bad reputation people will not trust you. They may not believe what you say when it is really true. You may find yourself in danger, as Wu nearly did. He needed to know that they appreciated his skills that he worked so hard at. Everyone needs praise and guidance when they are growing up. His grandma came to stay a while so that the family could sort themselves out.

Questions

Why did Wu want to make the journey to Chengdu?

Did he tell anyone he was going?

Why did they not believe him?

What did Wu’s father realise when he found Wu at the station.

What things had Wu done that you would not do?

What do children need from their parents and carers?

 

Monkey Story 2 ‘The Visitors Arrive’, for kids of 6 to 8 years.

The visitors arrive at the Monkey Tribe’s home

monkey-tail002

A story about kindness and consideration towards newcomers.

for children of 6 to 8 years old Story Number 2 of 2 stories

This story is ideal for children to turn into a play with some guidance from teachers or parents. Read the story to the children first and ask the questions posed at the end. Discuss with the children how they would like to act out the story and go ahead.

The day the two new monkeys came along was a day to remember.   All the young monkeys had their ideas about how helpful they were going to be, and how they were going to welcome their new visitors.

When the visitors arrived there was something different about them. They had yellow tails.

The monkeys eyed them up and down.

‘Who ever has a yellow tail?’ they thought . No monkeys had yellow tails in their tribe. They scurried round all checking their own tails.   Brown. All Brown. Was there something wrong about the new monkeys? Why were they different? What else was different about them? Did they speak the same way? Did they eat the same food? Did they sleep at night?

The young monkeys were puzzled. They had heard different monkeys jumping around in the trees before, but didn’t notice much about them. Now here were new monkeys who had lost their families and their tribe was being asked to be kind to them and make friends.

One of the clever monkeys thought he would offer them some berries to show that he was friendly.

Shyly the new monkeys ate the berries.

Then the clever monkey made a long chattering sound and the new monkeys answered him with their own slightly different chatter.

The clever monkey showed them his tail; he proudly waved it in front of them.

One of the new monkeys jumped up on to a branch and seemed to fall straight off it. Just in time he curled his tail round the branch and hung downwards on it showing everyone what a clever tail he had too.

monkey-tail002

The monkeys soon realised that although their new friends looked a little different from them, they still needed kindness and friendship, and in their turn they would be kind and friendly too.

They fitted in very well with the monkey tribe and soon all the monkeys forgot about the differences between them, because those are the things that did not matter. Being kind and friendly and helping each other are what matters most.

Questions:

What would you call this story?

How did the monkeys feel about having new visitors?

How did the clever monkey make the new monkeys feel at home? 

What could the new monkey do with his tail? 

Even if monkeys or people are a bit different from us they are just the same inside, everyone, monkeys and people need what?

The Monkey Code, about kindness and consideration to newcomers. Story 1 for kids of 6 to 8 years old

   The Monkey Code

A story about kindness and consideration towards newcomers.

for children of 6 to 8 years old.    Story Number 1 of 2 stories

This story is ideal for children to turn into a play with some guidance from teachers or parents. Read the story to the children first and ask the questions posed at the end. Discuss with the children how they would like to act out the story and go ahead.

The monkeys were having a meeting, they were making a lot of noise and jumping up and down. There were monkey mothers and monkey children and some old grey monkeys too. Nobody could hear what anybody was saying.

monkey-playing001

An old grey backed monkey stood and reached his big hand up to a tree branch. He shook it hard. All the leaves rattled and made a swishing noise. The baby monkeys ran to their mothers and hid. The boy and girl monkeys stopped jumping about and looked at the old grey monkey. They knew he was the leader of the tribe and that what he had to say was important. Monkeys who had been swinging about the branches clambered down to the ground to listen. Monkeys who were grooming each other stopped looking for bits and pieces to pick off their friends’ coats. All eyes were turned to Grey Back.

‘We are all here today because there is some news. Now listen carefully. We’re going to have some new monkeys in our tribe. There are two young monkeys coming to join us. They have lost their families. There was a fire in their part of the forest and they lost their homes. I want to know how you will take care of them when they come. The monkeys looked round at each other. They were very quiet. They knew that this was important and they were thinking hard. They were just imagining how frightened and lonely their new visitors might be. Some of the monkey children replied:

‘I can be a good friend,’ said one.

‘I can show them our food trees,’ said another.

‘I can help them to build a nest to sleep on at night,’ said a third.

The monkey mothers nodded their heads in agreement. It seemed like the young monkeys had learned their lessons well. They had been taught to look after each other and to be helpful and kind.

‘Well done ,’ said Grey Back, ‘if you look after others then they will look after you, but if you are unkind, others will turn away from you, and your unkindness will turn to unhappiness. And that is against the Monkey Code. What do we want? Happy monkeys, helpful monkeys, that’s our code!’

Grey Back gave the branch one last shake then lumbered off into the trees.

‘Happy monkeys, helpful monkeys!’ chattered the youngsters as they went back to their clambering about.’

‘I’m off to find some fruit’ said a teenage monkey.

‘Fruit, fruit!’ whooped the youngsters as they all disappeared into the trees.

Questions

What name would you give to this story – what do you think it is about?

Why did the monkeys have a meeting?

Why were two young monkeys coming to join the tribe? 

How did the monkeys say they would take care of the visitors?

How would you look after new people in school?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

The refugee situation – a story to think about

A story of compassion and greed, for people concerned about the refugee situation 2016

refugee-story001The child looked around her. She knew no one at all. Her brother has disappeared the previous day. He said he was going to look for water but never came back. She lay curled up on some rags she had found. Her body was tightly wound into a ball to keep warm. Hunger gnawed at her belly. Her mind was confused, no single thought formed properly. Emotions flooded through her. Shaking and trembling with cold, hunger and fear, she hid her face from the world. No one seemed to be interested anyway. She heard shouts and cries, the sounds of rough men and frightened women and children.

She tried to reconstruct the past she knew, that past which had been shattered by bombs and blood and death. She tried to dream herself back into the life that she had so recently been living…

Her mother cooked at the stove. The kitchen was bright and cheerful, colourful cloth draped the walls. She sat on her father’s knee and stroked his beard. Her elder brother was in the courtyard, she could hear his laughter as he played with his friends. Then suddenly fear came to stay. Planes high above, the sounds of explosions and screams, people running and nowhere to go.

‘What shall we do, my husband?’ asked her mother.

‘We shall wait, there is no place any safer than here,’ said her father.

They gathered in the doorway and watched huge clouds of dust rising in the distance. Her brother flew indoors, aghast and horrified by the noise.

A few minutes later the child found herself on the floor. The air was so thick with dust she could not see across the room. She reached out and felt the body of her father lying beside her, lifeless. Her mother too lay beside the stove, the small flames still sputtered, lighting the dust which gathered on every surface and on the bodies of her parents. She crawled across the room thinking it might be safer to stay low. Under the table cowered her brother, speechless and in shock. She wrapped her arms around him and they remained under the table until after what seemed like a very long time, the bombings stopped.

Then shouts and cries filled the air, wails of sorrow and loss. Someone shouted their father’s name. The man pushed into the ruined kitchen, it was the neighbour, the girl gave a cry.

They were all shepherded out of the ruined houses. She held tightly to her brother’s hand. He couldn’t seem to be able to speak.

There on the rags, curled up, starving and thirsty she couldn’t recall the rest. She didn’t want to. She hoped to somehow get back in time and choose a better way forward, but young as she was she knew that it would not be possible.

refugee-story001

She felt a hand on her shoulder, it was gentle and kind like a mother’s hand. A young woman in clean clothing and with a badge in the shape of a Red Cross peered at her. She spoke words that were unfamiliar to her and offered her a bottle of water. Painfully the girl uncurled herself and taking the water drank deeply.

The Red Cross women held her hand and helped her to stand. She felt so weak she could hardly put one foot in front of the other. She was carried to a lorry where a number of other children waited. They all had a bottle of water and a small loaf of bread. Most were silent, quietly nibbling their bread, their eyes hollow. She pushed the loaf they gave her under her clothes. She couldn’t eat.

At a camp the children were put into tents, boys in boys tents, girls with girls. The older girls helped the younger ones to get what they needed – blankets, water and food.

After a second long journey in a lorry they found themselves in a place where houses were still standing, where people were very poor but friendly, although they spoke a different tongue. She was taken in by a family which already had four children. There was a heavy stone in her heart, which seemed to get heavier each time she thought of her parents and her brother. She could tell no one about how she was feeling as her words were not understood.

Meanwhile in the West people shook their heads in sorrow. A few signed cheques to help those in trouble. A few gathered up unwanted clothes and sent them off in lorries to Syria. A small number of brave, adventurous souls went to help in the camps, but most people did nothing.

Some recalled the two World Wars when refugees were accepted, accommodated and cared for. But somehow ‘War Time’ was different. Then everyone had a personal investment in it. Families had members who were soldiers; many knew people who had lost their lives. Sacrifices were made and expected of everyone. The whole of Europe and most of the rest of the world was involved. People could empathise with the loss and sacrifice.

Attitudes are different now. People have grown fat and rich and are afraid of giving up even a tiny bit of their wealth or their freedom to do exactly what they want to do for themselves. They think that they are not involved in this war in the Middle East. They think they can shut it out, shut the borders, close their eyes to it, refuse to recognise the suffering. Let other people in other countries, which happen to be closer but are not involved in the war, let them take the refugees. It doesn’t seem to matter to the West that many of these countries are very poor already, they are expected to share what little they do have with all the suffering and dispossessed peoples.

Many people in countries in the West seems to be losing the ability to be generous and compassionate and instead focus on keeping what they have, come what may. It seems that the more they have the less they want to give. Is this the equality that is spoken about so loudly? It is time for a rethink.

Questions:

How do you see refugees?  Are they guilty and need to be punished for being homeless? Looking back at your family history, or your friends’ families, how many of them have been persecuted for their race, religion, colour or nationality?  Who helped them to get through and become happy and productive citizens?

Does your heart go out to refugees when you hear about their suffering?

Do you feel you would like to do something but cannot think how you could make a difference?

How do your friends feel about the situation, are they selfish or generous?  

Does anyone express an opinion or do they just keep quiet and hope not to become involved?

Could you afford to give something to the Red Cross or similar organisation that you trust to help these people.

Could you raise some funds by holding an event, large or small, to show solidarity with those who are suffering?  Is anyone in your town involved in this?  How can you find out?

You could let me know how you get on….