|I’d like to tell you a story about Zahra, who looks like any other teenager in her black jeans and hoodie but has been through extraordinary things.|
She crossed the Channel at dawn on Christmas Day on an overloaded rubber dinghy, risking her life one last time for a chance of safety at the end of a seven thousand mile journey. Listening to her, I was struck by the similarity with those ancient, epic folk tales in which a hero has to travel vast distances and overcome monsters and perils to find hope.
She asked me to tell her story and this is an attempt to do so in a way that explores how humans like Zahra, who have been demonised by certain politicians, are not alien or other. They are us.
You can listen to Zahra’s story here or on Spotify, Apple, Acast or wherever you get your podcasts. Each episode of Can We Talk? is me telling a story into your ears about an encounter with a remarkable person and thinking about what it teaches us.
I wrote and recorded this before the invasion of Ukraine created another huge wave of forced migration, but the truths are the same for those fleeing that desperate situation. I hope you’ll listen and let me know what you think.
The organisation that supports Zahra is Kent Refugee Action Network. Please support them. The DEC Ukraine Appeal is also a good way to help.
The image shows my son Josh on Calais beach next to the Banksy image of a child with a suitcase looking out to sea with a telescope, watched by a vulture.