This is the story of Gentil Misigaro, a Tutsi from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was born in the late 1980s shortly before the genocide in neighbouring Rawanda began. Stay Strong, the first of the Arrivals non-fiction series from Clockwise Press, offers a glimpse into the frightening world of refugees avoiding warring parties on all sides. Forced to flee their home near the border, first travelling to Rawanda, then back to the Congo, and eventually into Uganda, the Misigaros finally made their way to snowy Winnipeg in winter 2010. In Canada, Gentil has become a successful musician and teacher, and was recognized as one the country’s “Top 25” immigrants in 2014 for his efforts to help others. This short book (it looks like it was completed on a dot matrix printer) includes black and white maps and photographs, a timeline of events, website resources and a brief index.
Classroom Connections: This is a timely piece of informational text, with events in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere placing refugees on nightly news broadcasts across the world. For most intermediate school students the book would be a captivating read since it is a tremendous true story of survival. There are also opportunities for acquiring content knowledge and for comparative examinations of other refugee crises. Above all, Misigaro’s essential story (“it is not easy being … a newcomer … but … every person has something to give, to share, and to do for somebody else”) is one that students can learn from.
Review by George Sheppard