Beloved author of children’s book Possum Magic signs copies to welcome Afghan refugee families to Australia after fleeing Taliban-occupied homeland
- About 237 Afghan refugees arrived in Adelaide last week after the fall of Kabul
- Resident Nicole Erfurth decided to collect a children’s book for young families
- She contacted author Mem Fox who donated a box of autographed books ‘within hours’
- A wider Adelaide community has rallied behind the newcomers donating goods
- Australia has evacuated about 4,100 people from Afghanistan in nine days
Beloved Australian children’s author Mem Fox has distributed autographed copies of her book Possum Magic to Afghan refugee families arriving in Australia.
Ms Fox was contacted last Thursday by Adelaide resident Nicole Erfurth, who wished to express her support after a rescue flight carrying around 100 refugees arrived in South Australia’s capital around 4am on Wednesday.
“Like many others, I cried tears of happiness when I saw the Afghan people arrive this week. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how, and then I realized how little these people would have, especially the children,” Ms Erfurth wrote on Facebook.
Nicole Erfurth (left) contacted author Mem Fox (right) who “within hours” donated a box of autographed copies of her beloved classic Possum Magic to newly arrived Afghan refugee families.
The mother of a three-year-old said it was then that she came up with the idea of collecting Australian children’s books for the families and approached the author.
“Not realizing she lives 10 minutes away from me. I’m still in shock, but Mem herself texted me back this morning and within hours she had turned up at work with 30 personally signed books for these little kids who had just fled their war-torn country.”
“You and I grew up reading Possum Magic in our childhood, and as parents to our babies. Now these refugees are allowed to do the same. How wonderful is that.’
A second flight carrying a further 137 passengers who fled the Afghan capital Kabul after the city’s fall to the Taliban arrived in Adelaide around 5 a.m. on Sunday.
The passengers entered Australia on humanitarian visas and were transported in coaches to Hotel Grand Chancellor for a two-week quarantine.
Ms Fox arrived at Ms Erfurth’s work Tuesday with another box full of children’s books for the new batch of arrivals – this time without even being asked.
‘Welcome to Australia. One day you will be Australian too. I’m so glad you’re here.’ Mrs. Fox signed copies of her book, the Australian classic Possum Magic.
The note Mrs Fox wrote (pictured) to the refugees who arrived in Adelaide on two flights last week
“Mem handed over another 30 books today. I’ve had messages from about three other authors willing to donate books to charity. The response was so overwhelming,” said Ms Erfurth ABC radio.
The Australian government has evacuated about 4,100 people from Afghanistan in nine days and has announced plans to resettle more than 3,000 Afghan nationals as part of its existing refugee quota.
Many had assisted Australian troops and embassy personnel stationed in Kabul.
There were also an estimated 130 Australian civilians in Kabul when the city fell after the United States began withdrawing troops in August.
Defense Secretary Peter Dutton confirmed on August 27 that the Australian evacuation mission had ended with the last personnel and troops departing from Kabul airport as the city becomes increasingly dangerous.
Some Afghan refugee families arrived at Adelaide airport last week (pictured). The government has pledged to resettle 3,000 people from the country
In addition to books hosted by Ms Erfuth, the wider Adelaide community has also rallied behind the newcomers donating clothes, food and toys.
Students at Tenison Woods Catholic School in Richmond wrote welcome cards that were delivered to refugee families in hotel quarantine through SA Health.
The Adelaide charity Treasure Boxes has also donated 34 boxes of toys, 102 boxes of clothing, diapers, toiletries and activity mats.
While the popular Parwana Afghan Kitchen restaurant, Adelaide owner Durkhanai Ayubi, had raised more than $80,000 for the families.