On a blustery autumn day, Poppy Edwards walked hand in hand with her dad towards the school gates wearing her brand new black and pink coat. It was the first day at her new school after she and her family had moved house and she was feeling worried. All the other children will have known each other for a few weeks already and Poppy wondered how she was going to fit it. She was pleased of her warm, cosy coat against the wind. Poppy’s dad Charlie took her all the way to her new classroom where Miss Keane showed her where to sit and introduced her to Eli who was going to be her buddy – he would show her around the school and help her to settle in.
After their morning literacy lesson, Poppy and Eli went outside to play. Poppy put on her coat. On the inside it had a special label which said:
Poppy Edwards is my name & exploring is my game
Eli noticed the label and asked, “What does that say?” Poppy explained, “My dad wrote my name there. He told me my special coat means I’m ready for anything and can go exploring in new places.” Eli nodded seriously before saying, “You better come and explore the whole playground then.” He took her round every corner of it. He showed her the place where hopscotch was painted on the floor, and the school vegetable patch where carrots were growing, and his favourite place – the giant snakes and ladders board. The snakes and ladders were painted on to patio squares which made up the board game, and there were giant counters and a dice. Some other children were playing with it and a girl with ginger hair laughed as she had to slide her counter down a slithering snake. When the bell rang and it was time to line up, Eli showed Poppy where to go.
By the time lunchtime came it was raining. Poppy knew her coat was warm and waterproof but no-one went outside. Instead they ate their lunch in the hall before returning to their classroom. Poppy and Eli played snakes and ladders but with a normal sized board at their desk. Eli was only a few squares away from winning when he had to slide down a gigantic snake! Poppy rolled the dice again and had to slide down the exact same snake. They both laughed as she moved her counter to share the same little square on the board. Just then Poppy remembered her mum had given her a special treat for her first day. She rushed over to her lunch bag. “Look Eli. Mum gave me two fruit winders. Would you like one?” She held up a mango flavoured winder in one hand and a strawberry flavour in the other. “Yes please Poppy, thanks for sharing.” The best thing about fruit winders is that after you’ve finished there’s still a card to look at. They were both a bit too little to read all the words on the cards but they had fun looking at them. “You can have my card Poppy.” said Eli, after they’d looked at them both. “Thanks, I’m going to put them in my special zip up pockets in my new coat.” Replied Poppy, and slid the cards into the coat pocket.
It was still raining when the bell rang for the end of the day. Poppy put up the hood of her coat as she went outside to meet her dad. “Thanks for being my buddy Eli.” She called as she saw her new friend meet his mum and little sister. “See you tomorrow Poppy” he waved back.
Sharia sat on her bed waiting anxiously for her father Araz to come home. Every day was the same, he’d go to work as a solicitor in Erbil, a city in Iraqi Kurdistan and when it came towards the end of the day Sharia and her mother and sister would listen anxiously for the sound of his keys in the door which meant he was safe. His friend and work colleague hadn’t gone home one day. The police said he was lying about their friend – saying he’d committed a crime that he hadn’t – and had taken him away. Araz’s keys jangled in the lock and Sharia ran to hug him. “We have to go.” Was all he said. Sharia’s mum started packing a bag immediately and within the hour they were out of the house. Sharia wasn’t sure where they were going but they got on a bus on the main road and she watched her home disappear through the windows.
Many days passed. Sharia and her parents and sister took buses and walked miles, they slept with family one night but after that they slept wherever they could. They eventually got to the sea. Sharia had never seen it before, it was so big that she couldn’t see the other side. They stayed a few days, sleeping outside, until one day Araz told them all that he’s managed to get them places on a boat. In the dead of night the family stepped on to the rocking boat. Sharia didn’t like the way it moved under her feet and clung to her mother as they stumbled to their places. The crossing was rough. The sea churned beneath them and they were squashed in so tight with all the other people that it was really uncomfortable. Sharia could hear someone being sick close by. “When will we get there?” she asked her father. “Soon my love, soon.” Her father replied.
Many months passed. Sharia and her family travelled on and on, heading north. They had to hide from the police in this strange place and sleep hidden away wherever they could find. Eventually, after long cold nights and through many difficult situations they arrived at the place her father had spoken of. Araz had told them about Calais. It was the last place before the sea to England; his friend had arrived two months ago and told him all about it. They were so pleased to arrive here but knew it was going to be very difficult to cross the sea this time. The police were always there, in their blue vans with their staring eyes. Some people came that gave them a tent and some food. It was so cold at night that Sharia couldn’t sleep much. One day a lady came to their tent and told them that they could sleep somewhere else. Araz and his family were allowed to sleep in a big gymnasium with 150 other people. It was crowded but warmer than their tent and Sharia could finally sleep soundly – the first time in many months. She sometimes asked her dad how long before they could go to England, but he always looked so sad and shook his head.
Poppy had been at the same school now for almost a year. Eli was her best friend but she had made lots of other new friends and had got really good at reading and writing. She’d also grown much taller. Her lovely black and pink coat didn’t fit her anymore and her mum had got her a smart green coat which used to belong to her cousin. Poppy loved her coat, she’d explored so many new places with it, so she wanted to make sure that it would go to someone that would really need it. Her dad had an idea. “Why don’t we send it to Calais?”
“What’s Calais?” Poppy asked.
“Calais is a place in Northern France, just across the sea. There are lots of refugees there who want to come to England but aren’t allowed. They came to Europe to get away from danger in their own countries.” Charlie explained.
“Why aren’t they allowed here?” said Poppy, confused.
“I don’t know Poppy. The government says they can’t come here. I think there will be a little girl in Calais who would love your special coat.”
Poppy agreed, so they put the coat in a box along with other clothes collected from friends and neighbours, and gave them to a lady who was going to France.
Sharia looked up as her dad came across the big hall of the gym. He was carrying a new t shirt and some cereal bars. This could only mean one thing: there must be a distribution outside! She rushed out with the other children to see what the aid workers had brought. All the children were pushing to be first but Sharia stayed with her mother in the line. When it was her turn, the lady at the back of the van held up a black coat. It had a hood and was pink inside. She turned round to put her arms in it and it fitted perfectly. She smiled at the lady and said “Thank you”. Everyone said how smart she looked and the other aid workers asked if they could have a picture together. As they were getting ready for the picture, Sharia put her hand in the zippy pocket of her new coat. She pulled out two little cards which were covered with writing and pictures. She carefully put them back and zipped up the pocket. She wanted to keep them to look at later. Sharia was so pleased with her warm, cosy new coat.