It is my firm belief that the greatest cause of conflict between some Australians and our need to support asylum seekers and refugees is the lack of education around the issues and the consequent wilful ignorance that goes with being afraid of the unknown. No amount of statistics or reality checks can compete in an age of ‘alternative facts’ where fear and fear mongering rule the day.
With that personal rant over, Trouble Tomorrow is an exceptional book for young adults that offers a thrilling, funny and moving true story to help us begin to understand the journey some refugees and asylum seekers must take to stay alive.
16 year old Sudanese boy, Obulejo, is forced to leave his family and friends behind and flee his village when attacked by soldiers during a period of civil war. In the company of strangers, he is forced to trek through rough terrain and enemy territory for weeks on end, making his way across the border into Kenya. The journey is difficult, not just physically and emotionally, but mentally too, as Obulejo is forced to discard a lifetime of learning in order to survive. Former tribal conflicts and distrust must be put aside if he and his companions are to live.
The title of the book comes from Obulejo’s name, which means ‘trouble tomorrow’ in his own Ma’di language. When he eventually makes it to a refugee camp in Kenya, new troubles arise as he faces dispassionate UN workers, starvation, poor facilities, overcrowded accommodation and crime. There is no future and no great likelihood of ever being resettled in another country. Obulejo turns to theft to survive in this new dog-eat-dog environment until he is accepted into a revolutionary peace education program which helps him realise there are better ways to build hope and a future for himself and others.
Trouble Tomorrow is based on the life of co-author Sarafino Enadio, a Ma’di man who has been working in conflict resolution for almost 20 years since he undertook that peace educator training. He now lives in Tasmania and, while this is his story, it is also the story of countless others who are forced to flee for their lives every day. Obulejo’s adventure never seeks sympathy but it is an eye-opener about cultures very different from our own and how regular people from different cultures share the same hopes and dreams as us all.
Trouble tomorrow is often caused by ignorance today. As an educational tool, this book excels because it doesn’t beg the reader to side with any one culture or situation. It simply tells a story from a young boy’s perspective, doing whatever he deems necessary to survive, both the good and the bad, the mature and the immature. It opens discussion on what’s right and wrong, consequences of war, seeking asylum and cultural issues. Every school library should own a copy. Every responsible parent should buy it, read it, and engage with their children over it.
Trouble Tomorrow is relevant, necessary, and a very enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 10
Released by: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: February 2017