August 3, 2021

when unaccompanied minors recall their lost childhood

Delivered. We sense the innocuous, almost childish question. These questions without stake which can only elicit answers without much relief … However, when the journalists Marie-Françoise Colombani and Clarisse Quillet seize the “Who do you miss the most? “, they know how to awaken entire swathes of lives buried in the depths of childhood, and turn it into an original little book that opens onto the childish condition on other continents.

For that, the authors addressed this question to teenagers who one evening dumped everything. The question has resuscitated snippets of their first life, times gone by, with their share of dramas, lost loves and moments that even the greatest despair will never erase.

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Kadi left Conakry, Grâce-Bénédicte from Abidjan, Yassir from Kabul. Like the other nine heroes of the book, they gathered a few things one evening, to go on the run to another world, totally unknown and not even dreamed of. They did not wait until they were old enough to walk to flee, because life had decided not to let them grow up in peace where they were born and where their children in turn could have seen the day.

Perpetual quest

By asking twelve unaccompanied foreign minors (or young adults), who have come alone to France, who “Most missing”, it is the universe of mothers and grandmothers, that of siblings also sometimes, that journalists wake up. A protective world that they had to let go to escape violence, wars, misery or an early marriage with a stranger. Sometimes it’s a moment that they want to tell as if to be sure that it will last. What Mohamed the Guinean does, remembering his mother’s tears when he told her about the mistreatment from his uncles. “That day, it was I who consoled her. From there I told myself that life was a struggle ”, tells the young man definitely armed by this founding moment. Ahmad the Sudanese, for his part, remains in search, years later, for dishes cooked by his mother in Darfur. Flavors that he would bring back to life, if only boys in Sudan could watch their mother cook …

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Marie-Françoise Colombani and Clarisse Quillet tell about distant civilizations. Sensitive to wandering and uprooting, through this booklet, they wanted all eyes to turn to these migrants about whom we no longer talk too much. Already, from the “jungle” of Calais, where migrants who wanted to reach Great Britain were transiting, Marie-Françoise Colombani had drawn in 2016 a story called Welcome to Calais, illustrated by Damien Roudeau, the designer works this time again. The sale of this small solidarity book, intended for both children and adults, will finance the lunches that Agathe Nadimi, a Parisian teacher who every lunchtime, for six years, with her association Les Midis du MIE (for unaccompanied foreign minors), serves a dish to young people who live in the streets.

“The one I left”, by Marie-Françoise Colombani, Clarisse Quillet and Damien Roudeau (illustrations), Actes Sud, 96 pages, € 9.90.

“The one that I left”, by Marie-Françoise Colombani, Clarisse Quillet and Damien Roudeau (illustrations), Actes Sud, 96 pages, 9.90 euros.