Category Archives: Uncategorized

Review of The Lightless Sky by a fellow Afghan and Friend.


I have just finished reading Gulwali Passarlay’s book “The Lightless Sky”. It was a great book to read and It captivated my thoughts to the core because I myself have made this terrifying and life threatening journey from Afghanistan to the UK in late 2007. In his book Gulwali talks about “ almost drowning in the Greek sea” this is something which I have experienced too.
The inhuman treatment by the Iranian and Turkish authorities and human traffickers, the struggle to have basic needs like food and water, the dangerous attempts to cross from one country to another and risking our lives by hiding in lorries and sleeping in jungles are the experiences which all the refugees go through to get to a safe place. Gulwali mentions the food queue in Calais in the book which reminded me of the times I had queued there for the food. Reading the book made me feel like I was making my journey all over again because the similarities are astonishing. I know Gulwali since 2011. I met him at Hamid’s house who is mentioned in the book too and ever since we have been good friends. Although I know Gulwali personally and very closely, reading his book made me connect with him in a more emotional way because we have a whole journey and struggles in common.

Reading the book surfaced characteristics about his personality that we sometimes unknowingly miss out noticing in our friends. In the book, he comes across as a leader and quite daring which is hard to be when you are literally following orders given by the smugglers. In the book, he also comes across as very curious, punctual, trying to know what the plan is and trying to have a plan before action person. Let me tell you that knowing Gulwali I can confirm these things about him. He always wants to do things with a plan and is always curious about things which are unclear. For example, once he had come to Belgium to meet me. I asked him not to book a hotel room instead we stayed at a friend’s house for the night. He was not happy with it because staying at my friends house was not part of his plan! The next day he booked a hotel room.

I want to thank my dear friend Gulwali for writing this book because it’s not only his journey, it’s the journey of every person who was unfortunate to leave their loved ones behind and seek protection in Europe. He is a role model for me and for many people who have made this journey. I wanna thank him for representing the refugees and asylum seekers and for educating people about the reality. I am proud of his achievements and charity and community work. As an afghan, I am proud to see my fellow afghan and a friend to have carried the most prestigious “the 2012 Olympics Torch” representing refugees, struggles, courage and determination.

Niamatullah Rifiqi

The New Internationalists by Sue Clayton | Waterstones

Buy The New Internationalists by Sue Clayton from Waterstones today! Click and Collect from your local Waterstones or get FREE UK delivery on orders over £25.
— Read on www.waterstones.com/book/the-new-internationalists/sue-clayton/9781912685660

I am pleased I was able to contribute to this brilliant book by way of foreword to it. Many thanks to everyone involve with sharing their work, efforts and dedications. Volunteering and volunteers are an important part of being able to make a difference and have a positive impact. Congratulations   🥳 to Sue Clayton, Tess Berry-Hart and the team. 🙂

Thirteen years ago, I made the dangerous journey from Afghanistan to Europe as an unaccompanied 12-year-old, and now have status here in the UK. The acts of kindness that I was shown on the journey I still remember – and many of the people supporting me in my hardship and showing compassion were volunteers. Most certainly, I was touched by the kindness and support of volunteers with basic necessities of life, like food, water and shelter in Athens, Rome and Paris, and particularly in Calais. I was so grateful to all the wonderful people out there who supported and helped me in my most desperate situations and huge thanks to all volunteers and friends for continuing their efforts and dedications.

I have spent the last ten years so volunteering, giving back to the community and making a difference to those less fortunate. I founded an organisation called My Bright Kite that aims to improve the well-being and inclusion of young refugees who arrive here – because making the journey is only half the issue, young people then have to find a place for themselves and ways they can it in and belong. And I wrote an account of my own journey here called the ‘The Lightless Sky’, and have been asked to events all across the UK to share my experiences. People are mostly kind and generous and often want to know how they could help refugees. I encourage people to write to their MPs, go on protest for social justice, get active and engaged with their local City of Sanctuary group, or refugee support network, or suggest they volunteer in the UK with refugee charities or in Calais and Greek refugee camps. I am humbled by how hearing about my experiences has it has inspired and empowered them to travel to refugee camps across the world to support the efforts and work of NGOs. It’s amazing to see ordinary people doing extraordinary work, when EU governments were falling refugees but a massive volunteer movement that came to the rescue of literally millions of refugees who entered Europe in 2015 and since.

As we see across Europe, things seem to have changed in the last few years and the environment become so much less welcoming. With governments not always helping, or being hostile to refugees, and NGOs not always up to the job, the role of the volunteers has become essential – and a whole new movement. We have been so alarmed with humanitarian workers treated as criminals in Italy and Greece, also the example of the Stansted 15, peaceful protesters who were criminalised for supporting refugees. We all need to go on speaking out and be advocates for human rights for refugees and those who support them.

Gulwali Passarlay, BA (Hons) MPA, author of The Lightless Sky.

GREAT COMBINATION “THE LIGHTLESS SKY” and “TASTES & TALES” – The Dignity Centre Shop

Two amazing books written by our fantastic Trustees Gulwali Passarlay (The Lightless Sky) and Alan and Katherine Strang, (Tastes & Tales) THE LIGHTLESS SKY     Signed by Author paperback  A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy’s traumatic flight from Afgha
— Read on refumade.org/products/great-combination-the-lightless-sky-and-tastes-tales