Nini unahitaji kuwa joto

Migrant boy wrapped in blanket
Picha: iStock/Nebojsa Markovic

Neil Gaiman is a celebrated writer and a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR.

He wrote a poem using ideas and images from tweets he received from his followers on Twitter. Neil Gaiman had asked his followers to tell him about something that reminded them of warmth. He received almost 1,000 responses. Here is his poem.

“Nini unahitaji kuwa joto”
by Neil Gaiman

A baked potato of a winter’s night to wrap your hands around or burn your mouth.
A blanket knitted by your mother’s cunning fingers. Or your grandmother’s.
A smile, a touch, imani, as you walk in from the snow
or return to it, the tips of your ears pricked pink and frozen.

The tink tink tink of iron radiators waking in an old house.
To surface from dreams in a bed, burrowed beneath blankets and comforters,
the change of state from cold to warm is all that matters, and you think
just one more minute snuggled here before you face the chill. Just one.

Places we slept as children: they warm us in the memory.
We travel to an inside from the outside. To the orange flames of the fireplace
or the wood burning in the stove. Breath-ice on the inside of windows,
to be scratched off with a fingernail, melted with a whole hand.

Frost on the ground that stays in the shadows, waiting for us.
Wear a scarf. Wear a coat. Wear a sweater. Wear socks. Wear thick gloves.
An infant as she sleeps between us. A tumble of dogs,
a kindle of cats and kittens. Come inside. You’re safe now.

A kettle boiling at the stove. Your family or friends are there. They smile.
Cocoa or chocolate, tea or coffee, soup or toddy, what you know you need.
A heat exchange, they give it to you, you take the mug
and start to thaw. While outside, for some of us, the journey began

as we walked away from our grandparents’ houses
away from the places we knew as children: changes of state and state and state,
to stumble across a stony desert, or to brave the deep waters,
while food and friends, home, a bed, even a blanket become just memories.

Sometimes it only takes a stranger, in a dark place,
to hold out a badly knitted scarf, to offer a kind word, to say
we have the right to be here, to make us warm in the coldest season.

You have the right to be here.

UNHCR and USAHello

Neil Gaiman wrote the poem to support UNHCR’s Below Zero winter emergency appeal. UNHCR helps refugees and other displaced people around the world where they need it most. We at USAHello partnered with UNHCR to create FindHello, an app and website to help refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in the USA find the support and services they need.

Saidia wakimbizi na wahamiaji nchini Marekani

Kwa kutoa USAHello, unaunga mkono teknolojia na elimu ambayo husaidia wageni kufanikiwa nchini Marekani.

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