Onjali Q. Raúf, born in 1981, is a British author, women’s rights activist, and founder of two NGOs: O’s Refugee Aid Team which mobilises aid convoys and funds to help frontline refugee response teams across northern France and Greece; and Making Herstory, an organisation which fights for the rights of young girls and women to be free from all forms of abuse, supports women’s shelters, and is committed to combating human trafficking in the UK. She studied women’s studies at the University of Oxford and has worked for a number of human rights organizations.
It was while volunteering with refugee aid programs that Raúf came up with the idea for her first children’s book »The Boy at the Back of the Class« (2018), which examines the refugee crisis from a child’s perspective. Ahmet, the boy who suddenly comes to sit in the back row of the nine-year-old narrator’s classroom, was separated from his family while fleeing Syria. The narrator and their friends want to help him and plan to personally speak directly to the Queen. Onjali Q. Raúf sensitively tells a story of war and flight, courage and compassion, and the power of friendship. The novel was awarded, among others, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award. Her second children’s book »The Star Outside My Window« (2019) deals with the effects of domestic violence on the lives of children. After her mother’s disappearance, ten-year-old Aniyah finds herself in foster care. Deep down in her heart, she knows that the special people in one’s life never really leave – they become stars in the sky. When Aniyah learns about the discovery of a new star, she does everything she can to make sure it receives the correct name. »Every book is political, whether you like it or not. To say kids don’t understand politics – that they don’t understand sexism or racism – is to be a fool.«
Onjali Q. Raúf lives in London.
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