Boys Without Names

For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. With the darkness of night as cover, they flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer. But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory, just a small, stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again. But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys’ key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.

Across the Tumen: A North Korean Kkotjebi Boy’s Quest

As North Korea undergoes a devastating famine, Yeong-dae loses both his parents and is forced to beg on the streets. Soon, this young boy sets off on a desperate journey to China to find his sister—his last living family member. Captured by the authorities, he is sent back to the North, where he is thrown in jail and tortured.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume VII, Issue 3

Selavi: A Haitian Story of Hope

The story of Selavi celebrates the triumphs of children who face some of life’s most difficult challenges. In these pages, you’ll meet Selavi, a homeless child who is befriended by other children living on the streets in Haiti. They look out for one another, sharing food and companionship. Together they find the voice to express the needs of Timoun Lari, the children who live in the streets. With a caring community they are able to build a shelter, and from there to create Radyo Timoun, Children’s Radio, a station run by and for children, which is still in operation today. At Radyo Timoun, the questions and suggestions of children are broadcast for all to hear. The story takes place in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, a country which has a long history of resistance and struggle. Haiti is the birthplace of Toussaint L’ouverture and many others whose dedication to justice led to Haitian independence from slaveowners. Haiti is perhaps best known as the island which orchestrated the first successful revolt by enslaved peoples in the western hemisphere in 1804. Haitian author Edwidge Danticat adds an essay at the end of the story of Selavi.