Christchurch Attack Victim Pens Book for Kids Dealing with Trauma

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Losing her son in the deadly Christchurch mosque attacks, a Muslim woman has penned a free book for kids to help them deal with loss and trauma.


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

Dr. Maysoon Salama is the manager of two Muslim-based early childhood centers since 2000.

Her husband was badly injured and her son Atta Elayyan was killed in the attack on Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque two years ago.

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The new picture book, Aya and the Butterfly, is written in both Arabic and English. She wrote it for her granddaughter Aya and other children dealing with grief.

“Aya’s father’s death is implied, but this is not the story’s focus, and children do not need to know how it happened. They do need to know that sometimes we have to say goodbye to the people and the things we love the most,” Dr. Salama told New Zealand Herald.

“In the face of such overwhelming loss, we must allow ourselves to remember and feel sad, but we must also learn to let go and keep going. There is hope.”

Aya and the Butterfly is the first in a series of four designed to celebrate the Muslim community in New Zealand and has been developed alongside the Islamic Women’s Council and Ministry of Education.

“The book joins part of a growing collection of learning resources that reflect the diverse culture and perspectives of children and young people across New Zealand,” said Ministry of Education deputy secretary early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid.

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“The book is accompanied by a teaching guide to assist with conversations with learners around the topics of grief and loss, and the cycle of life in general. We thank Dr. Salama for trusting us with her story and enabling us to share it widely to all learners.”

The book is available online and printed copies will be delivered to early learning centers and schools in term three.

Two years have passed since the grim massacre of 51 Muslims in New Zealand’s Christchurch which shook the worldwide.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region.

It is also home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s 3rd most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.

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