On my left wrist, I wear three bands. A weaved pink, yellow and orange ‘friendship bracelet’, a black cord with six coloured beads, and a purple leather cuff.
Each of them has a deeply personal story. But I want to share the story behind just one: the purple leather cuff.
Six years ago, a Bulgarian leather worker made it for me. I had her engrave something on it:
“As I write my sorrows disappear and my courage is reborn.”
Beautiful statement, isn’t it? Do you recognise the words?
They were first penned by a 15-year-old girl, one Tuesday in April, 1944.
How do I know that? Because that 15-year-old girl is perhaps, the most prolific teenaged author in literary history: Anne Frank.
A few months after she wrote those words, her diary ends.
On August 1, 1944, she wrote:
“… finally I twist my heart around again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good on the inside and I keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and what I could be, if there weren’t any other people living in this world.”
And, if her diary was never published, that would be the last anyone would ever know of Anne Frank.
But what did Anne Frank so want to be? A journalist.
She wrote that over and over again, that once she was released from the Secret Annexe, she would pursue a career in journalism.
I must’ve read her diary more than thirty times since I first picked it up in early high school. You may have a comfort food, I have a comfort book. And it’s hers.
I’m ashamed to say, that what first attracted me to Anne Frank was not her words, but rather her face. Dark brown eyes, curly brown hair and a prominent European nose. Just like me.
And her name: Anne Marie Frank. Just like me: Emma Marie Horn. Nothing remarkable or memorable.
But her words have since written themselves across my heart. I wear them now, on my left hand – the hand I write with. Her legacy has inspired me and many others.
What if this teenager did not write her diary? What if she did not believe herself worthy to transcribe her wartime experience?
What if her father – Otto, the only survivor of the Frank family – did not empower her first by giving her the diary, the pen, and the freedom to write?
What if Otto, upon returning to the Secret Annexe, did not see the value in publishing his daughter’s words?
In 1955, the play adaptation of the diary opened on Broadway. Seven cities in Germany hosted the play throughout 1956. A year later, it opened in Amsterdam, Holland – the city Anne had once called home.
Germany was the first country in Europe to bring the play to its shores.
It’s rumoured that at the end of one matinee performance in a small German town, when the curtain fell, the faint sound of sobbing was heard.
It grew exponentially to a communal grieving as one audience member after another began responding to what they had seen.
The horrors of the Second World War were unknown to many German soldiers and civilians until the words of one 15-year-old girl sparked a national conversation.
One Dutch girl helped the world to grieve and process what had happened. And her legacy continues.
In Australia, it’s easy to feel detached from the events in Europe. Many Australian teenagers continue to read the Diary of Anne Frank. And so they should.
But over time, we have forgotten to encourage our children to find their voice.
We have not shown them that their words can make a difference.
For the past twelve months, a small team of journalists across the country have tried to fix that. They have given our nation’s children a voice, empowering them to speak and be heard.
But in two days time, that will all end, unless Crinkling News finds an enormous injection of funds.
Most European countries have a national newspaper for kids. Some countries have more than one. They understand that giving a voice to children can change the world.
But Crinkling News is the only place Australian kids can go to be heard on a national level.
Just like Otto Frank, its founder Saffron Howden, has seen the value in publishing their words. And it has already proved enormously important to so many kids.
Crinkling News should be an institution. Please help to keep it alive long enough to become one.
Our kids deserve to be heard.