Guest Post: Rani in Search of a Rainbow
By Shaila Abdullah
When the floods came to her tiny village in Sind, there was no braving it out for Rani and her family. The 8-year-old fled on foot with her family and other villagers, leaving behind her whole life–her home, school, friends, and belongings. Her family was airlifted to safety by a disaster relief organization and brought to a refugee camp. Inspired by the assistance her family was providing in various capacities at the camp, Rani embarked on a journey to find ways in which she could help others––and in doing so was able to bring great joy to her friend on the celebration of the Muslim festival of Eid.
My new children’s book Rani in Search of a Rainbow is based on the 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected 20 million people. Nearly 8.6 million of them were children.
This devastating event touched me to my core. Any time a child is displaced from his or her familiar surroundings, it can be a frightening experience. But one of the greatest qualities of children is their resilience in moving on after the initial shock and trauma wears off. They know how to make the most of any situation, just like Rani and Juju did in Rani in Search of a Rainbow.
An adult’s role at that time can be one of mentorship and encouragement. Adults can assist in providing a safe environment that will allow children to continue to develop friendships, play, and grow. Attention should be paid to the mental state of children. They are prone to anxiety, especially when they continue to hear of losses and other displacements. It helps to provide children little roles that can take their minds off the situation and allow them to feel useful and important.
My hope is that by reading this story, young children would be able to better understand and cope with the effects of natural disasters.
For more information about Rani in Search of a Rainbow, please see http://shailaabdullah.com/rani-in-search-of-rainbow/
Watch the real and young victims of the 2010 Pakistan floods narrate their struggles:
Rani woke up to shimmering sun rays and raced outside the tent. She squinted at the sun until sunspots danced in front of her eyes. She laughed at the dotted campsite around her.
“It will be a great day,” she sang and danced around the poles of her tent. The sun was a welcome break from days of continuous rain.
A few weeks ago, the rain had started innocently in their village in Pakistan. Pitter patter, dancing droplets were a signal to the young children that it was time to celebrate by dancing. And dance they did. But the rain did not stop.
And in a few days, the bright blues of the rain turned to murky browns and stayed still on the ground. Rivers and creeks overflowed, but the rain did not stop.
Unaware, Rani and her friends pid-paddled, danced, and ran in the water, splashing each other until worried grownups removed them from the rising water. Rain, the adults warned, was not a friend anymore. That is when the dancing stopped.
“It is time to leave,” Daadi, Rani’s grandma, announced.
And for once, Rani did not ask why. Families ran in different directions. Rani’s friends were rushing behind their own families in a sea of color—red, blue, pink, and yellow. In their hands, they clutched what little they could save from the floods—a book or two, a favorite doll, a change of clothes.
From a distance, Rani’s home looked like a helpless boat as the water surrounded it. All Rani could think of were her treasures in there: her tiny notebook with her essay on what she wanted to be when she grew up, the blanket she slept with each night, the red dress that Daadi had stitched for her to wear to the upcoming festival of Eid. This year, she knew there wouldn’t be an Eid celebration
About The Book
Author: Shaila Abdullah
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Displaced by the Pakistan floods, Rani’s family has taken refuge at a relief camp where they are doing their part to help other flood victims. Eight-year old Rani wants to assist but doesn’t know how. Heeding the advice of her father to help in a way only children can, Rani embarks on a journey to bring true joy to a dear friend on the occasion of Eid.
Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of four books: Saffron Dreams, Beyond the Cayenne Wall, My Friend Suhana, and A Manual for Marco. The author has received several awards for her work including the Golden Quill Award and Patras Bukhari Award for English Language. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading, including the University of California, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana University, Boston University, California State University, and George Washington University. Learn more about the author at www.ShailaAbdullah.com.