In the early morning of the third day of DLF’23, the Cosmic Tent was filled with sunshine and smiles, in contrast to the cold and gloomy weather outside. Happily charismatic activist and children’s author Onjali Q. Roof held court to an enthusiastic audience in conversation with YA author Anjum N. Chowdhury was.
Rouf described to the audience her journey to writing children’s books, beginning with The Boy at the Back of the Class, inspired by an encounter with a baby born in a refugee camp in Calais. The author, who was awarded her MBE for her humanitarian work, shared childhood experiences of racism and bullying, and the alienation of being part of a minority. “We read about World War II in history class, but I wasn’t in the books. There is no mention of the achievements of South Asians or Southeast Asians at all. Nothing represents our shared history,” she explained.
Responding to questions about how to keep Anjum N. Chowdhury’s story true, Roof took all her inspiration from the wonderful children in her life and the selfless heroes big and small she meets over the course of her aid work. is the founder of the women’s rights group Making Her Story, which tackles the abuse and trafficking of women in the UK.
She introduced the audience to Hope on the Horizon, her handbook for empathy, which chronicles the work and impact of aid workers and young activists. In the Q&A session that closed her panel, she provided the audience with many messages of affirmation and hope.