Activities for Soraya, the storyteller.
1 Find a map of
On a world map, show how she may have reached
2 Find a favourite story from Mullah Nasruddin in the collection at
Can you make up a short funny story or a joke like these set in
3 See some puzzles at www.public.asu.edu/~apnilsen/afghanistan4kids/
These can be copied for children's use. Eg joining dots in Dari, a crossword in Dari etc.
4 How is the possum like Soraya? Why does Soraya say she is a willy wagtail now?
Is there another special reason why she is a willy wagtail? One that she doesn't know about until the end?
5 Make a kite and fly it. Have fun.
See article by Clarke, Daniel, 'Go fly a kite – it's a learning thrill.' The Advertiser, Jan 27, 2004, p36.
6 Make Soraya's recipes and eat them.
More Recipes at
7 Who was Sheherezade? How did she stay alive? Read a children's version of an Arabian Nights story eg Aladdin.
8 How did the stories in Soraya, the storyteller help Soraya? Who else did they help?
9 We all have a story. Write a story about your family. Can you put some things from folk tales in it like Soraya did?
10 You have a magic carpet or a flying horse. Write a story about what you do.
11 What is prejudice? Discuss ways to stop it.
See www.adl.org/prejudice/default.asp for 101 ways to combat prejudice
12 Games – what games did Soraya and Rafeeq play in
More activities under 'Refugees'.
Ellis, Deborah, Parvana. NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2002. (& Parvana's Journey, 2003)
Gleitzman, Morris, Boy Overboard.
Hawke, Rosanne, Borderland.
Zephaniah, Benjamin, Refugee Boy.
How Soraya came about
I was first inspired to write Soraya when I heard about innocent children kept in detention centres in
I have always been interested in
I don't see myself as an activist. I just saw a heartfelt need and wanted to write a story to show how children are suffering here in
To write Soraya, I met with an Afghan family who came by boat; they kindly befriended me and later helped check my manuscript for Dari mistakes. I visited the Adelaide Refugee Centre, read true accounts of refugees' escapes from their homelands, spoke to Tom Mann who taught in the Woomera Detention Centre, and read the stories that children wrote for the competition run by Australians Against Racism. These stories are now the book, 'Dark Dreams', edited by Eva Sallis. They made me cry.
I searched the web too for information about Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome and ways to combat prejudice.
About the stories
I was inspired by the way Sheherezade from the Arabian Nights stayed alive through storytelling. This gave me the idea that Soraya is a storyteller too and the stories would help keep her spirit alive. 'The Ebony Horse' fitted Soraya's dreams and is a story that could have been told in
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Soraya and her family are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Often children suffering this withdraw, are anxious, or feel more fear, and have either an increased sense of danger as Soraya did or become more reckless as Rafeeq did. Children can regress in their behaviour as Kamilah did, freeze when threatened, have nightmares, and get depressed or angry. Their self esteem often suffers too. Sometimes children make up magical explanations for their suffering.
See more about how children react to trauma and how to help them at the