Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US Army. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali embarked upon a twelve-month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger cruelty and violence. He endured a terrifying, life-threatening journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and spent a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a young boy alone.
Here in Britain he was fostered, sent to a good school, worked hard and won a place at a top university. Gulwali was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012. He wants to tell his story – to bring to life the plight of the thousands of men, women and children who are making this perilous journey every day. Many die along the way, some are sent back to face imprisonment and possible death, some survive and make it here, to a country which offers them the chance of a life of freedom and opportunity. One boy’s experience is the central story of our times. This memoir celebrates the triumph of courage and determination over adversity.
“The Lightless Sky is a heart-rending read that illuminates the plight of unaccompanied minors forced to leave their homes and loved ones. [Passarlay’s] powerful account is a testament to the courage of all those fleeing conflict in search of safety.”—The Independent (UK)
“The Lightless Sky is a remarkably vivid memoir [that] leaves you fearing for Gulwali’s safety and admiring his utterly tenacious resolve against overwhelming odds; but at the same time it is also a fearsome reminder of the experiences being endured by numberless, anonymous migrants.”—The Herald (Scotland)
“A powerful account of a year-long journey …. [a] life that was almost snuffed out so prematurely is now bursting with promise.”—The Times (London)
“A tale of fortitude and friendship told through a child’s eyes, Gulwali’s story casts much needed light on the difficult decisions refugees are forced to take about who to trust and how to stay alive against a backdrop of political indifference.”—The Refugee Council (UK)
“A tale of gracious triumph over all sorts of adversity as the author describes his life as a refugee and his arduous journey… This is a harrowing but necessary must-read about an exceptional young man, adding context to so much of what we read in the papers.”—Stylist (UK)
Beautifully written… It should be required reading in British schools.—The Big Issue
The Lightless Sky is a heart-rending read that illuminates the plight of unaccompanied minors forced to leave their homes and loved ones. [Passarlay’s] fierce intelligence is apparent throughout… His powerful account is a testament to the courage of all those fleeing conflict in search of safety.–The Independent on Sunday
[A] powerful account of a year-long journey to Britain… As a call for Europe and Britain to do more for the world’s refugees, the book is as powerful as that harrowing picture of the dead toddler on the beach.—The Times
An extraordinary man – achieving against all odds.—Jon Snow on Twitter
eBook – How to Start a Charity/Nonprofit Organisation
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Online Course – How to Become an Influential Changemaker
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