ALMI, A REFUGEE
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Almi was a young woman of 20 when she left her parents? farm on Saaremaa to live and work in Tallinn, Estonia. After a few months, she met Aleksander, whom she married. Their daughter was born about a year after, at the beginning of the Second World War, and a son was born 18 months later. Then her mother wrote asking them to move back to Saaremaa. This trip, that normally would have taken only one day to travel from one side of Estonia to the other, took them a whole week on foot, sheltering wherever possible and occasionally getting lifts on passing army lorries or horse carts. Eighteen months later their second son was born. In 1944 they fled to Sweden where they spent 10 months being moved from one refugee camp to another, and eventually having enough courage to leave the Refugee Association. No sooner had they got on their feet when they decided to travel on. Their third son was just four months old when they left Sweden on a small fishing boat with a lot of other Estonians, Finnish and two Swedes. The intention was to go to Argentina, but as it was such an old and rotten boat, they only managed to sail as far as South Africa. Tthey were threatened with deportation back to where they came from, but at the 11th hour were issued residential permits. Once again they had to struggle to get on their feet and this is where their last two sons were born. Life was not easy, but through hard work they survived and raised their family. Aleksander died in Cape Town when he was almost 57 in 1969 and Almi lived on for 23 years. After having travelled to America, Australia, and back to Estonia to visit the family, she died of a heart attack while undergoing a hip replacement operation in December 1991. She left behind her six children, eight grandchildren and now there are ten great-grandchildren that she never knew. Some of them are living in different parts of the world. The book has now been translated into Estonian. It has also been read onto tapes at the Tape Aids for the Blind for the vision impaired.