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New Zealand's First Refugees: Pahiatua's Polish Children

My friend "Big Ben"

My friend "Big Ben"

At the Polish Children's Camp in Pahiatua, all the children except me seemed to be excited and happy. But I was convinced that I was ugly, shy, clumsy and a terrible coward. So I was a victim of bullies in the camp's school. One day I ran crying to the grotto, and prayed to the Virgin Mary about my fate and asked for help. This stopped me crying, and gave me some peace and strength.

On my way back I popped into the army canteen where, behind a high counter, stood a tall stocky man with a round face. On my next visit, he smiled and said: "Hello, big blue eyes." Then he pointed to himself and said: "Bill." When he pointed to me, I said: "Zosia." Later, our English teacher Miss Eising showed us a picture of London's Big Ben. After school I ran to the canteen page 209and shouted: "Hello, Big Ben." He burst into laughter. I felt embarrassed, then one of his brass buttons burst off and we both laughed. Thanks to "Big Ben" I learnt to laugh and be happy.