Today’s post on Bishopston Mum is a post with a difference. It is a children’s story written by Tamara Evans Braun, a volunteer at Books for Amnesty second-hand bookshop at 103 Gloucester Road.
In her story, Tamara aims to tell local children about Books for Amnesty, as well as the purpose behind Amnesty International.
Once upon a time, in a big city called Bristol, lived a little girl called Freyja. Freyja liked to play with her pet dog and run around outside.
She giggled with her friends on the way home from school and played practical jokes on her little brother. In the evenings she would pick up a book and take it to her old grandmother to read to her.
One day when Freyja got home from school she burst into tears.
“What’s wrong lovely one?” asked her grandmother.
“A boy in my class took my new pencils,” cried Freyja. “he thinks he’s better than me and I never want to go back to school”
“Well my love”, said her grandmother, “I went to the Amnesty Bookshop on Gloucester Road today and got us a new story. How about you wipe your eyes, come give me a hug and I’ll read it to you.”
So Freyja dried her eyes, climbed up onto her grandmother’s lap and the story began…
“Once upon a time, there lived a young lady called Yuzana. Yuzana lived in a country a long, long way from here. It was a magical land full of temples and beautiful mountains. The people wore colourful traditional clothes and before the rains come the whole country melted in sweltering sunshine.
One day lots of soldiers came and took control of the country. The soldiers had had hard lives and felt that they deserved to be in charge. They stole food from the people and made them work for no money.
Yuzana thought this wasn’t fair and asked her friends to join her in standing up to the soldiers. They wrote letters to the soldier captain asking why they were being so unkind but the captain didn’t write back.
Yuzana invited all her friends round to her house to work out what they should do next. After many cups of tea and much discussion, they decided to hold a protest. They would get together in public place where they couldn’t ignored and show the soldiers how unhappy they were.
Yuzana’s friends asked their friends to join and word spread. Lots of people wanted to stand up to the soldiers and on the day of the protest ten thousand people arrived with banners and colourful flags. They didn’t get cross or violent, they just walked through the streets shouting and singing songs.
Yuzana and her friends were sad that so many people had come because it meant that lots of people were unhappy. They were also happy because it meant the soldiers would see them.
The soldiers did see them and they were cross that so many people were standing up to them. They didn’t want to listen. They started to arrest people and Yuzana was put in prison.
Yuzana spent a long time on her own in prison. It was dark and smelly and very lonely. At night she dreamed of walking in the sunshine on the mountains. In the day time she felt very small and helpless and started to worry she might never see the sun again.
This was until the letters began to arrive.
“Dear Yuzana” said the first letter “ We saw what you and your friends did and were very impressed. We think you are very brave and it’s not fair that you are in prison. Try not to be sad, we believe in you, From Alice Mason, England”.
Yuzana didn’t know Alice Mason and had never been to England but she did know that she had not been forgotten. More letters arrived from other people that Yuzana didn’t know. Each one felt like a present. Over the next few months they helped her feel better when she was sad and made her feel less alone.
The people writing the letters were normal people like you or me. A charity called Amnesty International had found out about Yuzana and organized the letters.
As well as writing to Yuzana they wrote to the soldier captain. They told him that the world was watching what the soldiers were doing and that they needed to stop being unkind to the people. They said that it wasn’t fair to put people in prison for just asking questions.
Have you ever noticed that it is much harder to be naughty when someone else is watching? Although the people writing the letters weren’t powerful people they worked together and wrote a lot of letters. Powerful people started to notice what was going on in Yuzana’s country. They talked to the soldiers about behaving better and in the end the soldiers started to be kinder.
After a long time in prison Yuzana was set free and she lived busily ever after. She spent a lot of time walking in the sunshine on the mountains and lot of time writing letters to other people in prison around the world. She hoped that her letters would help the prisoner in the way that the letters she received had helped her, because it’s always good to remind people that someone cares about them and that they aren’t alone.
Freyja’s grandmother put down the book and Freyja looked up at her.
“So remember” she said. “ I care about you and you are never alone. The next time someone is mean to you, you talk to them and ask them to stop. Then you come home and you tell your family or friends and together we will look after you. When people work together they have the power to change the world around them.”
Written by Tamara Evans Braun, Books for Amnesty Volunteer.
Books For Amnesty Bristol is a second-hand bookshop at 103 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, BS7 8AT.
We sell adult and children’s books plus comics, DVDs, CDs and Vinyl. The money we make goes to Amnesty International, a charity that challenges human rights abuses around the world.