Almi, A Refugee

Almi, A Refugee

by Tiiu Priilaid-Kleyn

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940148892342
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication date: 11/21/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 308
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Towards the end of 1944, when the Second World War was raging, five-year-old Tiiu Priilaid-Kleyn and her parents fled Estonia to escape the advancing communists. The family lived in Sweden till 1948, when they set sail for Argentina. Fate intervened and they ended up in Cape Town, South Africa, with virtually nothing but the clothes on their backs.

In 1959 she married a man twenty-three years her senior and the marriage endured till her husband’s death in 2005. Tiiu has a son and a daughter as well as two beautiful granddaughters.

Tiiu’s mother, Almi, wrote her story in Estonian and Tiiu translated it into English little-by-little over a period of thirty years. This work entailed a trip to Estonia in 1994 where she found additional material from surviving relatives which helped to fill in some of the gaps in the narrative. Tiiu has read the book onto tapes for the blind at the Tape Aids for the Blind at their studios in Cape Town and the book has also been translated into Estonian. (Soon to be published in Estonia)

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Almi, A Refugee 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite Almi: A Refugee is a true life story written by Tiiu Priilaid-Kleyn that not only sets out to tell the story of how a woman defies expectations and conquers the extraordinary trials of her life, but is also a tale of love, determination and faith. A farm girl, Almi was born in Paavli, her parents' farm in Estonia, in 1917 when the First World War was coming to an end. At the age of nineteen, she ventures to Tallinn, the country’s capital city, where she meets her husband Aleksander. And in 1944, with three children in tow, the young family members, fearing the Russian Communists invading their country, become refugees in Sweden. When Russia demands the return of Estonian refugees from Sweden, the growing family flees to South America, but ends up in South Africa where they struggle to make a decent life for themselves. This is their story. Almi: A Refugee is an extraordinary story about a woman who has an endless supply of endurance and hope. Guided by her mother’s diary, Tiiu Priilaid-Kleyn comes up with a story of dislocation that tugs at our hearts, especially because of the millions of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees pouring into Europe every day. What I like most about this biography is that it is not written out of sadness and frustration, but as an inspiration to anyone who is uprooted from their native lands and forced to live a complex life as a refugee. With pride and dignity, and against all odds, Almi and Aleksander raise their family in their adopted countries. Almi: A Refugee is a compelling read that follows a young family forced to flee their own country, but determined to find a home they can truly call their own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almi's story is skilfully yet simply woven together, in its translated version, by her daughter Tiiu, who used the memoirs of her Mother - collected over a life-time - to reproduce this fascinating work.  It took Tiiu 30 years to translate the original Estonian memoir, to organize them into book format, and then to get this to the publishing stage. In a nutshell, the synopsis on the back cover of the book tells it all - yet at the same time it has the effect of whetting the reader's appetite in terms of finding out more about this remarkable woman.  Almi's life was one of hardship, adventure and stoic fortitude.  What comes as a pleasant surprise was how entranced I was from the outset.  The foreword which starts with the following sentence: "The storm was raging outside while I was weeping inside.  Here we ware sitting in this very small boat, once again on our way, to ... where?" had me captivated from the get-go, and I found that I wanted to read more about Almi's life journey, which I subsequently discovered, ended in Cape Town. Almi was not of the school of the faint-hearted.  This remarkable woman was able to cope with whatever came her way, to make the best of often appalling circumstances, and to turn her talents to the benefit of her family.  Almi was in short, the mainstay of her large family, and her beloved yet oft times ineffectual husband, Aleksander. We first meet her as a young girl, with an older sister to whom she was very attached. Early on in her life, Almi had to come to terms with loss and responsibility.  The devastating effects of the death of the sister, her changed circumstances at the tender age of 13 when she had to leave school to assist with tending the farm animals and doing chores, all had a lasting effect on the young Almi. When she and her husband Aleksander, together with their young family, were forced to flee a war-torn Europe, in order to seek asylum elsewhere, they embarked on a series of often terrifying journeys not the least of which was an exhausting sea voyage in an old rust-bucket of a boat, which finally brought them safely to the shores of Africa, and to Cape Town, before completely disintegrating! Almi's resourcefulness was what saw them through many a tight spot, from getting an accommodation the boat, to taking in boarders in Cape Town and working as a seamstress in Claaremont -  all of which were handled without complaint and indeed often with equanimity.  In reading this book I was transported back to the Cape Town of 30 odd years ago, an enchanting experience as I recognized many of the places where the family had staye including the beautiful Sans Souci which they cared for as temporary custodians, this yet again, thanks to Almi's unswerving resourcefulness. Almi's history is inspiring, fascinating and for me totally captivating.  The work weaves a spell all of its own, being the story of a courageous woman, probably unaware of the depth of her fortitude and strength.  I am left with a great sense of admiration for her and am in awe of her accomplishments often under the most difficult of circumstances. It is a book well worth reading. Review:  Julie Hattingh - 10 July 2013.