This collage of different refugees' shoes was the picture that initially inspired me to write GRANDMA'S TREASURED SHOES. I can only imagine that each shoe would have a different tale of danger, hardship, sacrifice and the cost of freedom to tell.


*All these photographs were taken by Michael Jensen as part of the collection of Photographs of Vietnamese Boat People, Darwin, November 1977.

At the fall of Saigon in 1975, many children and families had no choice but to escape the effects of the war. This resulted in the biggest intake of refugees in Australia’s history and an international response and forced changes to migration policies across the world. I’m sure many refugees lost their shoes on the journey or left their shoes behind on the boat at the point of rescue. However, as I tried to ‘put myself in their shoes’, I could only imagine that the ‘shoes that brought them here’ would become one of the most treasured pair of shoes ever owned.

*This are the actual shoe that inspired Christina Huynh and she based her illustrations from, as well as some artefacts that her family members brought with them on the boats from Vietnam to Australia.

GRANDMA’S TREASURED SHOES is available in stores next month.