FunDza and the UNHCR celebrate World Refugee Day with a love story
“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The FunDza Literacy Trust and the UNHCR have joined together to mark World Refugee Day by publishing Finders Keepers, a short story about a refugee girl’s search for love and happiness. Starting 14 June, the seven-chapter story will be released in serial format (a new chapter each day) on FunDza’s mobi network. To further increase engagement, readers will be invited to enter an exciting competition connected to the story.
Through this teen love story - available in both English and isiZulu - FunDza and the UNHCR hope to raise awareness of refugee experiences and to promote tolerance, empathy and understanding.
In Finders Keepers, Aimée Mwamba loses her lucky coin on her first day at a new high school. It was given to her by her grandmother before she fled the civil war in the DRC. It is something precious from her country, and she has kept it safe across many borders and through many refugee camps. So when she drops it, and handsome, charming Mandla picks it up, she is determined to get it back.
Finders Keepers is a love story, designed to get teens hooked and coming back for the next chapter each day, but on a deeper level it explores loss, what it means to belong, and the courage to overcome adversity and prejudice. Each chapter ends with a discussion question aimed at engaging readers and provoking debate and comment around issues in the story.
Finders Keepers was written by experienced local author Ros Haden together with Phoebe Sibomana. A workshop with the UNHCR and its partner, the Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training & Advocacy (ARESTA) helped with the plot development and other information.
Ros Haden noted: “Fiction is a powerful tool in creating awareness, understanding and empathy. I hope this story draws readers in, allowing them to walk in the characters’ shoes and identify with the challenges they face.
Co-author Phoebe Sibomana added: “I believe the story opens up a space for teens across nations to communicate and confront the issues related to different African cultures and languages. Being a refugee myself I could relate to the story and the issues Aimée faces. I think it’s an eye-opener for SA teens to see the diverse cultures that embody South Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the FunDza Literacy Trust, managing trustee Mignon Hardie noted how excited the organisation was to partner with the UNHCR on this initiative. “Finders Keepers is exactly the type of human interest story that will capture the imaginations and interest of our thousands of readers. And, yes, while it’s a love story that will get readers reading, we also know that the issues raised are likely to spark dialogue amongst readers and, ultimately, promote tolerance and understanding,” Hardie said.
Tina Ghelli, for the UNHCR says, “With the recent spate of violence against foreigners, including refugees and asylum-seekers, the release of this story couldn’t be more timely. Through the power of this story, we hope to convey the message that refugees are just like you and me, except they have been forced to flee their countries. We are happy to be partnering with FunDza, as it gives us a new and exciting platform to reach out to South African youth and encourage them to take an active role in building communities of peace and diversity.
To promote Finders Keepers and increase interest in the story, UNHCR and FunDza are hosting a competition. To enter, readers will need to answer a multiple choice question related to the story. Up for grabs is a laptop for one lucky winner (selected via random draw), as well as Mxit Moola for five runners up! Full details will be available on the FunDza mobi network from 14 June.
World Refugee Day is held on 20 June each year.
FunDza Literacy Trust and the UNHCR