Tag Archives: Burma

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GUEST SPEAKER: Hazel Barker from Burma
DATE: Friday July 27, 10:30 – 11:45 a.m.
VENUE: Redland Museum, 60 Smith Street, Cleveland

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Join Hazel as she shares her story of life in Burma with you.

Hazel Barker arrived in Australia from Burma in 1967. She completed her Arts degree at the University of Western Australia. After teaching English and History at various high schools she took early retirement to devote her time to writing.

Hazel’s memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child was shortlisted in the Australia and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition 2017.

Its sequel The Sides of Heaven was released in March 2018 by Armour Books.

Fear holds her a prisoner. Hope sets her free. She longs for freedom – then she dedicates her newly-won freedom to God!

Hazel’s debut novel, The Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie was published in 2016 by Rhiza Press.

Her short stories have won in various competitions and have been published in several anthologies.

Hazel’s books will be available for sale at the discounted price of $20 each.

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Comments on my Books

1. An interesting and honest account of the ravages of war and also of individuals’ struggles to maintain their faith and sense of values.
(Kathy Stewart, author)

2. We learn of the bravery of Hazel’s brothers in the face of the enemy, of religious conflict of a Christian mother and her children pitted against a Muslim father and his relatives.
(Martin Line, author)

3. The story is told with warmth. Hazel has an engaging writing style and uses evocative images to put the reader in the picture. There are glimmers of hope, answers to prayer and even humour amidst the tragedies.
(Nola Passmore, author)

Three Miracles – Stories of Life
storiesoflife.net
Three Miracles gives us a glimpse into Hazel Barker’s childhood, growing up in Burma during World War II. This story transports us right back to a night in 1944, when the Allies try to retake Burma. This is what happened at Hazel’s home that night.

A blog post on Stories of Life website about Hazel Barker and her story have been published and can be accessed here:

http://storiesoflife.net/2018/06/06/three-miracles/

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“The Sides of Heaven” by Hazel Barker reviewed by Beverley Asmus

INSIGHTFUL JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY

Beautifully written in her trademark, intimate style, Hazel Barker takes the reader inside the cloistered world of those who have dedicated their lives to God. However, as interesting as this background may be for some readers, for me it was her personal struggles towards self-discovery that enthralled me the most.
The prequel to this part of Barker’s memoir, “Heaven Tempers the Wind”, shed light on what it was to be a child of war during the occupation of Burma. While everything familiar was breaking down around her once sheltered life, Barker drew strength on her unwavering faith in God for her survival, always believing in a better future to come.
Unfortunately, that better life did not arrive with the end of war. Family battles, specifically with a brutal father, had to be fought and more sibling lives lost. Although she is able to complete her education, finding friendship and possible romance, Barker feels called to offer her services to the Church. In many ways this is where her biggest life challenges begin, as important issues are raised about spirituality versus religiosity.
Barker’s honesty makes this compelling reading and leaves us wanting to read more about her incredible life journey

The Sides of Heaven is the sequel to Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child, which was shortlisted in the Australia and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition of 2017.

 

 

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Book Launch

 

The Sides of Heaven - Book Launch

Victoria Point Library, Lakeside Shopping Centre, 7 – 15 Bunker Road, Victoria Point.

See you there.

 

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The Sides of Heaven by Hazel Barker

sides of heaven_front

The sequel of Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child will be out shortly.

Set in a turbulent period of history, the story continues to unfold the struggles and sufferings of mother and children until death steals another three more of them.

Join the family in their journey to faith and freedom from the land of pagodas to the world of koalas and kangaroos.

To be released within the next few weeks by Armour Books.

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The Sides of Heaven by Hazel Barker

heaven tempers the wind cover

 

Dear Friends,

 

You have already read and enjoyed Part One of my memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child, which was published in 2016. The manuscript had been shortlisted in the Barnardo Great Aussie Book Competition of 2014, and the book was shortlisted in the Australian and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition of 2017.

 

Now, its sequel, The Sides of Heaven has been accepted by Armour Books and will be in print by late March 2018. The story is set in Burma during a turbulent period of history. It tells of love and hate, burning passions and exquisite joy.

 

Fear holds the protagonist, Hazel, a prisoner. Hope sets her free. She longs for freedom – then dedicates her newly won-freedom to God!

 

More information of the book launch and author talks will be available next year…

 

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Three Miracles by Hazel Barker

Three Miracles

Hazel Barker

In 1944 Japanese forces occupy Burma, my father is jobless and Mum has sold all her jewellery to buy food. We are starving.

Dad’s non-Christian relatives are wealthy merchants. Despite the war they live comfortably, often enticing us to abandon our Christian faith by promising delicious meals and ice cream for dessert if we convert to Islam. With quivering limbs, we children listen, swallow hard and lick our lips. Already our legs and bellies are swollen with beri-beri. My eldest brother, Rupert, also shivers and shakes with bouts of malaria.

Although sorely tempted by their offers, we don’t abandon our faith. Mum is adamant she would rather die than give up her faith. She instils in us the strength to bear our sufferings and to believe that the Lord will come to our aid.

Our plight worsens when our young sister Rose burns with fever and her body breaks out in spots. We can’t afford a doctor, so Dad calls in a herbalist. He tells Mum to lick the rash on Rose’s face, especially around her eyes, to prevent sores and loss of sight. Then he orders them to remain isolated from the rest of us, as smallpox is highly contagious.

Mum follows all instructions.

The period of waiting wears on: long and monotonous. The hint of death drives me to despair. I creep to my bed like a wounded animal in its cave. My stomach growls. I hold my distended belly. My legs feel too weak to carry me. Sleep remains my only solace. Time drags on. I don’t see Dad except at nights. Perhaps he remains with his relatives during the day and has his meals with them.

Even though we haven’t abandoned our faith, every evening the relatives bring something for us to eat. I am only eight and am at home, almost alone, because I was kept at home for fear the Japanese would capture me for their brothels. Rupert is too ill to accompany Dad or to eat and Mum refuses to have a bite. She is praying in her room. I wait until my brother, Bertie, returns home from his wanderings. He shares the food between us and we eat in silence. Then he relates his exploits.

Bertie keeps me going during the terrible period when I live in fear of death. I’d always been fond of him, but from then on, he remained a rock I clung to.

As the weeks drag on, in an attempt to re-take the country from Japanese forces, Allied bombing increases in intensity. Dad and the boys dug a trench in the back yard, and every night when the sirens scream, Lancasters rumble overhead. We rise from our beds and race into the air-raid shelter. Mum and little Rose can’t shelter with us in the trench until the danger of contagion passes, so Mum grabs her and crawls beneath the bed whenever the sirens sound their shrill warning.

I huddle in fear and pray for them.

Late one night, bombers fly over in force. They come in waves, breaking the silence like rolls of thunder. The earth trembles from the roar of anti-aircraft guns and the crump of bombs, dislodging dirt from the sides of the trench.

Amid the noise and confusion I hear a dull thud from the direction of the house. I expect a blast to follow, and picture a bomb falling on my mother and Rose as they crouch beneath the bed. I imagine them buried below a pile of rubble and long to rush indoors to save them.

But no explosion follows.

I half-rise to my feet.

Bertie cries, ‘An unexploded bomb must have fallen on our house.’

Hands on the damp earthen sides, we feel our way and scramble out of the trench, now filled with dust and smoke.

Mum runs through the haze towards us with Rose in her arms. Tears streak down her dust-covered face like snail tracks. ‘The house is on fire,’ she screams, above the drone of the planes, explosion of bombs and pounding of anti-aircraft guns.

The full moon lights our way until we reach the house and race up the stairs. An odour, which I learn later is cordite, assails my nostrils. Flames leap and roar in the boys’ bedroom.

Mum stops me before I enter. She hands my sister to me. ‘God will protect you, Hazel, and not let you catch small-pox from Rose. Look after her. I’m going to help put out the fire.’

I extend my arms, and the toddler nestles there, looking angelic with her eyes shut. Fresh scars, from which scabs have already fallen, pit her face. To prevent her from scratching, Mum has tightly secured her hands. Rose is swathed in a soft, white sheet like a shroud, with only her face visible. I hold her close and enter the room. The incendiary bomb sizzles, letting out blue sparks and orange flames. The heat from the blaze warms my skinny limbs. Smoke stings my eyes. I sneeze.

The boys drench their beds with water and Mum and Dad douse the incendiary bomb with sand. Finally, the fire is extinguished.

I squeeze my little sister, happy that she and Mum have escaped injury.

Next morning Mum beckons us. ‘Sit down and let me tell you what happened last night.’

Her eyes glisten as she talks. ‘Last night, while the bombs rained down, Rose sang Father, We Thank Thee for the Night. Her eyes were shut as she trilled out the hymn. I placed my hand on her forehead. Her temperature had dropped. I knew the crisis had passed.

‘My heart beating wildly, I fell to my knees and said, “Thank you, God, for saving my child.”’

She shakes her head and goes on. ‘If my faith had wavered when I witnessed the family sick and starving, this sign from Heaven only served to strengthen me. I got up, my trust in the Lord restored. As the bombs exploded, I held Rose to my breast and hid in the bomb-shelter we’d made beneath the dining table. I used my body as a shield, and prayed as the planes roared above. The house shuddered with the vibration from their engines. A bomb whistled down. I heard a thud followed by a sizzling, like a fire, from the boys’ room. Still holding on to Rose, I rushed towards the sound. An incendiary bomb had burst into flames between the boys’ beds.’

Mum clasps her hands and looks heavenwards.

I grip the arms of my chair and gasp. Surely the Lord had performed three miracles for us that night. Not only had he saved my sister’s life from a deadly disease, but he had prevented my brothers’ death by ensuring they were in the trench before the bomb landed, and saved my mother and sister from the bomb too.

I thank God, grateful we hadn’t succumbed to the temptation to abandon Him for the sake of a full stomach and ice cream for dessert!

 

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