Book: Child With No Name by Valentine Williamscategories: Book, True Story, Orphan, Mute, Rescue, Disaster, Aid Worker, Terrorist, Waves, Trauma, Therapy, Family, Tsunami
Valentine Williamsabout this book: CHILD WITH NO NAME by Valentine Williams, a novel of approx 70,000 words for young adults based on a true story
On holiday in Sumatra, ILSE, three, and UWE, seven, lose their parents in the Boxing Day Tsunami. ILSE by a miracle survives, eventually being taken to an orphanage where no one knows her language or her name. She loses contact with UWE
CLAIRE is a young volunteer aid worker in Indonesia, trying to reunite survivors of the Boxing Day Tsunami. She works for a charity alongside RACHEL, SIMON and JACK. They hear about ILSE, who is in an orphanage in rebel-held territory. SISTER AGNES, a visiting nun, speaks to Ilse in German, discovers her name and takes a photo of her. No one else knows she's alive. Her nationality is unknown. All the aid workers have is a photo of her.
CLAIRE'S formidable mother CONNIE tries to help and by detective work finds a photo of three-year-old ILSE in the nursery school in London. She compares it with the photo CLAIRE sent and realises it's the same child. CLAIRE and JACK also visit the orphanage and CLAIRE, who speaks German, promises ILSE that she'll be rescued. She tries to persuade the rebels to let her leave but she has no passport or papers and they refuse, asking for huge bribes.
CLAIRE visits the rebel soldiers during the ceasefire, but meets with the same refusal. CONNIE hatches a plot with CLAIRE to rescue ILSE, and talks a colleague into flying a small plane in to distribute food and snatches ILSE from under the noses of the guards.
CLAIRE is interrogated and imprisoned afterwards by the soldiers. As she is about to be deported, JACK rushes to be with her at the airport.
ILSE recovers, but her grandparents are too old to care for her. She finds sanctuary eventually with her other grandparents in America and finds to her delight that UWE has also survived and has been there for a while.
CLAIRE and JACK decide to go back and continue their work helping to reunite families and find homes for people who have nothing left. At last CLAIRE has found a soul-mate in JACK. They keep in contact with ILSE
I heard about this child by chance, from one of the women in this story, without whose bravery and single-mindedness Ilse would not have been identified, rescued and restored to what was left of her family.
Having worked as a child therapist, and foster parent I was aware of the effects of trauma on young children and Connie also was aware of this, which was why she decided to move heaven and earth to help this child.
I drew largely on accounts by survivors of the Tsunami and my own visits to Singapore to fill in the background, but I have changed the names of the main characters and the child, to protect their privacy. Otherwise the story is a true account.
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