How to put a Whale into a suitcase. – The story of a refugee

If tomorrow you have to leave your home and never come back, if you knew that whatever you choose, you’ll have to carry yourself and that it will go with you whenever you happen to go, what will you put in your suitcase?

That is the question that millions of refugees asked themselves everyday before leaving their previous life, the same question that begins the story that we talk about today. A perfect Christmas present:  Como meter una ballena en una Maleta  (How to put a Whale into a suitcase)

“I have decided to leave. The journey will be long, very long,
this is why I will take with me what I love the most, my Whale”

The dilemma and the refugee journey is something that I try to discuss with my children very often.

12 years ago I travelled to Syria. Although I went there for pleasure, I have to admit that before leaving, I was a little worried and full of prejudices. There I discovered how wrong I was. Syria turned to be the most welcoming place I have been in my life (and believe me, I have travelled around). People there were open and kind, they shared what they had and they were always opened to discussions and story telling. I discovered that they were exactly like us, with their business and their jobs, their family, their dreams, their houses and the children playing in the street.

Despite the language barrier and the cultural differences, I felt welcomed, accepted and somehow part of their community.


When I now heard, watched and read how their journey is being, I cannot avoid feeling sad, guilty and overwhelmed. We do not behave as they did, as they still do, because that way of being, of doing is built into their Society.

I really cannot think what could be in their minds the moment that they have to put all their life, all their belongings and memories in one suitcase. The moment they make their decision to go, even knowing that the journey is going to be hard and dangerous. And I try, because they could be me.

This is the reason why I discuss it with my children, why I talked about it with family and friends and with whoever thinks that there is a way to help them out.

I truly believe that if we work together, if we try to help, one day, hopefully not long ago, nobody will have to run away from their homes with all their life and dreams in a suitcase.

The author of this marvellous book is the illustrator  Raúl Guridi , a unique book, not only for the theme, but also for the innovative format.

Together with the editorial Tres Tristes Tigres, they have published 750 numbered copies, destined to save lives and make a point about Europe’s position in the refugees situation. For him, as for me, we cannot wash our hands, as he says the imagination is the last to die.

100% of the profit will go to the NGO Proactiva Open Arms,  a no governmental organisation which main mission is to save from the see all refugees that try to arrive to Europe running away from war conflicts, persecution or poverty.

They are the eyes and the voice of what is happening in the Mediterranean and others want to hide. They are the friendly hand that helps, rescues and protects all those refugees that arrive to Europe full of hope and dreams, leaving behind a life full of hate, chaos and fear, but also full of love, family and memories.

Everything started with a group of people from a sea rescue and first aid company that wanted to help. With so little they are doing so much, that they are the living proof that the only thing you really need for helping others is the will to help. There is a Spanish documentary about them called Astral  and I really recommend you to watch it.

What do you think? After all this, don’t you think that is time to fill our Christmas of Whales?

Christmas is also a time of reflection, so let’s try to welcome and help all those families in need near us. They need us, now and the rest of the year. Let’s move from the “I want to help” to the “action of helping others.”

You can find the book online through Tres Tristes Tigres. At the moment is only in Spanish, but if we believe in the cause, if we ask for it, I am sure it will soon be in other languages too.

Thanks to @zer0gluten for the first picture and for sharing the info.