I am the son of a refugee, but that is not the reason why I wrote Child I.
When I was a child I was a recipient of free school dinners, and charity bags full of toys and suchlike at Christmastime. We were a charity case and I had a foreign-sounding name – Tasane – and difficulty speaking English well. But in some ways, the worst thing of all, was that my father then deserted me and my three brothers, and my mother. We were a broken home. I hated being a ‘broken’ child.
I grew up intensely envious of my friends who had a father. I grew up feeling the same otherness that my father must have felt as a refugee arriving in the UK.
Child I is not my story. But it draws together the links between my own shattered upbringing and that of young refugee children growing up in today’s crisis-defined world. Nothing has really changed. We just want to belong. We just want to not be hungry. We just want to be able to laugh and play. We want to be.
And that is why I wrote Child I.