Book pushes people to challenge policies 

Extending the very successful Bendigo Writers Festival, Kangaroo Flat rotarians sponsored a dinner last Monday with author Robin de Crespigny. 

Robin, who had been a member of numerous discussion panels during the festival weekend, spoke with a fading husky voice. 

Yet her passion for her subject was evident to all. 

Robin’s book is the biography of a boy who, at the age of 10, became the breadwinner for his family. 

It is the story of his childhood, of his  responsibility for the safety of his mother and his 10 siblings as his country descended into chaos. 

There are many things that draw the reader into this book, not least that the author has written it in the first person, commonly used in autobiographies but unusual in a biography. But in doing this, the author ensured we hear the actual voice of her subject. 

Monday night’s audience was taken on his incredible journey as the author unfolded a story of anguish, love, and injustice. 

This was one of many such rotary dinners as Robin de Crespigny criss-crosses the country with her message.

 For Robin is not so much spruiking her book as holding up a mirror so we can see Australia definitely does not ensure a fair go for all. 

By the end of the evening, which was attended by about 100 people, most attendees had signed a petition (presented in a novel postcard format), challenging our federal parliamentarians to re-examine their consciences and change our current policies. 

The subject of Robin’s book The People Smuggler is Ali Al Jenabi, a man tortured in Abu Ghraib prison by Saddam Hussein. 

He was driven in fear for his life from Iraq, seeking safety for himself and his family, locked up by Australia as a people smuggler, yet declared the Oscar Schindler of Asia by an  Australian Supreme Court Judge. 

Ali saved his family, bringing them successfully to Australia where they have been accepted as genuine refugees. But Ali awaits possible deportation back to Iraq for engineering this amazing rescue. 

Jan Govett,

Epsom

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