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Amir's Blue Elephant: A woman's journey into the lives of Europe's refugees

Amir’s Blue Elephant: A woman’s journey into the lives of Europe’s refugees


Melissa Hekkers recounts her footsteps as she joins the journey of thousands of refugees seeking safety in Europe.

Author: Melissa Hekkers more info




Melissa Hekkers recounts her footsteps as she joins the journey of thousands of refugees seeking safety in Europe.

Pushing the boundaries of creative non-fiction, Hekkers recreates the moments that marked her the most whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus.

Told through the eyes of a woman struggling to understand the realities asylum seekers are thrown into, this is the story of people fighting for the fragile right to freedom and liberty, the right to life itself.

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Before COVID-19, the refugee crisis was Europe’s most pressing problem since WWII. Its legacy may be longer lasting. In years to come, when children, who braved the Aegean Sea in plastic rafts, have become adults, and feel resentful about being rejected, they will remember the people they met on Greek island beaches, volunteers like Melissa Hekkers. And they will recall that, yes, there was a welcome, there was kindness. Amir’s Blue Elephant brought a smile to a child of the Syrian war. A smile he will hopefully remember for ever. Hekkers’ memoire is a very personal contribution to the early history of the 21st century.

  • Malcolm Brabant | PBS NewsHour, Special Correspondent


From the infamous hosting facility of Moria to the darkest parts of cities in Cyprus, “Amir’s Blue Elephant” gives an insight to the hardships faced by refugees and migrants upon reaching European shores. Melissa’s experiences with refugees over time, shared in a clear and reader-friendly style, provide an opportunity to the most fortunate to reflect on what could and should be done to alleviate the loneliness of refugees in our midst; and most importantly to enable them to call their new countries a home. An antidote to the highly politicised and dehumanising discourse in our times.

  • Emilia Strovolidou UNHCR Cyprus


Melissa Hekkers’ impassioned account of her time working with refugees on Lesvos and in Cyprus is unflinching and refreshingly honest. She highlights the messy, heart-breaking, human stories of those she meets and refuses to settle for easy answers.

  • Tabitha Morgan | Writer & Broadcaster


Amir’s Blue Elephant is about keeping an open-minded approach to the world. Melissa tells us, in a most sincere way, how she feels about the persons who migrate in order to find a better life. Most importantly, with Amir’s Blue Elephant, she reminds us not to get used to human suffering, and she never points the finger at anyone. Her writing contributes to keeping our human empathy alive. After reading her book, you naturally come to the conclusion that the only solution is to cooperate all together in order to find structural solutions to this problem which concerns us all.

  • Françoise Gustin | Ambassador of Belgium to Greece


Read AMIR in one breath: disturbing, moving, engaging, with a frontal gaze at current issues.

  • Ruth Keshishian | Moufflon Bookshop


Hekkers delivers a true tour de force–with her lyrical and evocative writing, she shines a mirror on the humanity that unites us all

  • Mellisa Felix | Head of Casale Flaminia Writing Residencies