Skip to content

Review 5.19: Transforming life experiences into literature-EU-China International Literary Festival

Transforming life experiences into literature-EU-China International Literary Festival
By Bob Abor
The on-going 4th edition of EU-China International Literary Festival in Beijing has continued to inspire the minds of many participants. At Bookworm Sanlitun branch today, attendees acquired a unique taste on non-fiction writing from famed Netherlands based author, Mrs. Bibi Dumon Tak. Mrs. Bibi, who writes books targeting both children and adults, shared with the audience her experience when she lost her beloved dog. She used the terrible experience her family went through following the death of their only dog and co-authored a popular book entitled Scout’s Heaven. Precisely, the book illustrates how helpful the dog was to the family, how they missed it and how they finally cope with life without the “family’s scout.” She brought the point nearer to the audience when she played a short video about her last encounter with the much-loved dog. Her experience and the desire to save the lives of many pets instigated her to join animal ambulance crew in Amsterdam, which is the first of its kind in the world. This move paid off literary as it gave her much needed exposure to incidences that put lives of pets at risks like fire, water and diseases to enrich her literary work. She went on to publish several other books such as The Cow Book, The Soldier Bear, Mikis and the Donkey among others.
Mrs. Bibi, the winner of the prestigious Theo Thijssen Prize for Children’s and youth literature last year, then opened discussions by asking participants what happens when they see sick animals in the streets of Beijing. There was a general consensus among the audience that there is no such kind of intervention in place. Following this exposure, they are going back with the inspiration to initiate the same in their respective localities.
Ms. Alison Chan then chipped in to know from Mrs. Bibi whether one needs to have a qualification in order to work in animal ambulance. She replied that since she is not a veterinarian, she pursued a course and got a certificate in order to join the animal ambulance team. Since the course is open to other nationals as wells, Ms. Alison is already looking forward to pursue it in Amsterdam, Netherlands in the near future.
Since joining the animal ambulance crew, Mrs. Bibi has saved the rescued the lives of many pets and birds in Amsterdam. Mr. Alison asked whether she wrote a book about it. She happily acknowledged authoring two popular books from her experience as an animal ambulance team member which were printed as one publication entitled Mee me de dieneanmbulance.
Andy, a 12 year old junior school student asked whether the scope of their work includes rescue of wild animals. She clarified that their work is to recues all forms of animals including tortoises, swan, and reptiles. “There was a swan that landed on the highway, causing a big traffic jam in Amsterdam. The police called us. We rushed to the scene, where we found out that it was not wounded but was just lying on the snow fog. We decided to put it back in water,” Mrs. Bibi explained. She added that they also rescue wild animals in the event of fire outbreaks.
Due to the large number of animals they handle, Mr. Bibi responded that use of advanced technologies helps them to identify the pet owners. “If it is a dog or a cat we put a little chip/scanner that contains the address and phone contact of the owner in case the pet is healed or dead,” she explained. This is a new development that can be emulated in China to identify owners of stray pets in streets.
“The illustrations and pictures in your book touched me a lot. “People in Netherlands love and keep pets so well. We should borrow a leaf from them,” said Hellen. She appreciated Bibi’s book and bought one copy for her home library.
Participants appreciated the EU for bringing the best authors from Europe to inspire and build their capacity in creative writing.