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Lesson plans for ages 9-11 in Language & Literature: Refugee Children Recount their Experiences

Teaching Tools, 19 February 2007

© UNHCR/Zekaria Aken Deng
Painting by Zekaria Aken Deng, aged 15, Sudanese, Kakuma refugee camp.

LESSONS 1 and 2: Refugee children tell their stories


Begin the lesson by asking the students to name some myths and legends, fairy tales and fables that they know of. Do they know from which country the stories originated? Are they stories about how the world was created? Are they adventure stories in which good fights and wins over evil? Is there a moral to the story as in Aesop's or La Fontaine's fables?

Use the content of the section Introduction as a link to the rest of this lesson and the following lessons.

Hand out copies of "The deaf man and the blind man", which was told by Batula Mohammed Ali, a thirteen year old Somali refugee at Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Have the story read aloud around the class.

Comprehension and discussion questions

  • How did the handicap of each man prevent him from following his people?
    How could the deaf man be of any help to the blind man, and the blind man be of help to the deaf man? What word could be used to describe the help they gave each other?

  • The story is very short. Do you think the boy who told the story made it up himself, or do you think it is something that was told to him in his early childhood? Give your reasons.
  • Hand out copies of the story "The party", told by Abraham Marial Kiol, a 14 year old Sudanese of the Dinka Bor tribe. This story could also be read out aloud.

Comprehension and discussion questions

  • How were the living things divided into the two groups the animal group and the birds group?

    • a) Why wasn't the bat allowed to join the animal group?
    • b) Why wasn't he allowed to join the bird group? What do you think is the moral of this story?
  • Animals, birds, they are all living things. The division into groups was a decision made by the living creatures, and the result was that those who belonged to a group were happy, but those, such as the bat, who did not belong to any group were not happy. How about us humans? Divisions often occur in human society.
    • a) What are some of these divisions? (ethnic origin, colour, race, religion, sex, politics...)
    • b) Name the divisions that can exist in a school (grades, intellectually gifted/less gifted, in-crowd/non-in crowd, sporty/non-sporty ...)
  • The bat may not have been a bird, but the birds could have let him into their party. Similarly, the animals could have let the bat join their fun. However, both groups made a big issue of their division and excluded him because he was different.
    • a) What do you think of the animals' and birds' attitudes?
    • b) Describe a situation at school when someone is excluded because he or she is different in some way. What can we all do to overcome that exclusion?