Oranges and Sunshine

Oranges and Sunshine

Book - 2011
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Also published as Empty Cradles.

In 1986 Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker, investigated a woman's claim that, aged four, she had been put on a boat to Australia by the British government. At first incredulous, Margaret discovered that this was just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Up to 150,000 children, some as young as three years old, had been deported from children's homes in Britain and shipped off to a 'new life' in distant parts of the Empire, right up until as recently as 1970.

Many were told that their parents were dead, and parents often believed that their children had been adopted in Britain. In fact, for many children it was to be a life of horrendous physical and sexual abuse far away from everything they knew. Margaret reveals how she unravelled this shocking secret and how it became her mission to reunite these innocent and unwilling exiles with their families in Britain before it was too late.

Publisher: London : 2011. Corgi
ISBN: 9780552163354
Branch Call Number: ANF 304.894041 HUMP
Characteristics: 383 p. : ill. ; 20 cm


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Jul 01, 2017

I recently borrowed the DVD with the same title and thought I really need to read the book! There wasn’t much detail in the film about why the British government deported children to Commonwealth countries often without the knowledge or permission of their parents. The book does give more detail and it comes across in a very tragic manner. The child migration scheme sent British children to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) without telling parents that they would be housed in religious or charitable institutions where most of the children were physically, sexually and emotionally abused. They shipped off children as young as 3 years old and basically sent them into modern day slavery. “Child migration had operated periodically since the seventeenth century. The first shipment involved 100 children sent to colonize Virginia in 1618. Most of them were the equivalent of today’s street kids” (p. 60). “Paternalism, racism, religious fanaticism and bureaucracy all formed an unholy alliance and this was the result” (p. 373). Margaret Humphreys, the author of the book, was a social worker in Nottingham, England who got involved with some migrant children looking for their families. She set up the Child Migrants Trust to help these people. The book is very interesting (so is the DVD). Australia solicited child migrants after WWII when they lost many young men due to the war. 10,000 children were shipped to Australia, often told their parents were dead, leaving the children to feel abandoned by family and country. Not sure geographically as to the extent of the scheme, she makes brief reference to Kenya and South Africa as well. The deportation scheme lasted until 1967! Overall, an interesting, disturbing read.

Dec 18, 2015

Outstanding true life film & book that really makes one question humanity. This casting away of children is as old as dirt and continues today.

Many countries did this in one way or another, many with the hopes of a better life, a chance for the children to survive & thrive. Sometimes it was accomplished, less than more often. All of Europa & UK were in such devastated circumstances, economic straits, thousands of lost people displaced, lack of communication, on & on. In the US life was very different, recovery was swifter. Sadly, I fully agree with the other reviews.

Jan 08, 2012

Both the book and the DVD are a ‘must see/read’. This is a well written and documented account of a, hopefully never to be repeated, real account of the enforced child migrant scheme implemented by the pre and post world war British Empire. All those interested in social sciences, welfare, history and searching for British ancestry will want to see this DVD and read the book. Forced child migration was only stopped here in 1970, some as young as three. Children were sometimes given different names and birthdates to prevent them from tracing their families. Many were told their parents were dead. Fortunately many have been able to trace their families here and in the UK, NZ, Canada and South Africa.

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