Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SCARED ~ A Novel on the edge of the world

This is one of the many FIRSTS for me. My first "book review" ... not exactly a review, but more the "after-effects" ... Isn't that what 's suppose to happen after good reading?

I’ve re-finished Scared ~ A Novel on the Edge of the World written by Tom Davis over the long-weekend and thought it was one of the most blatantly truthful and sadly beautiful books I’ve read in a long time.

Being involved in Swaziland for the last couple of years it makes Scared just such a more amazing book, it’s about Swaziland and her people. Publisher, David C. Cook says in his note at the beginning of the book:
“Child advocate and speaker Tom Davis gives us a gripping portrayal of the hurt and pain that affects many in Africa. This story reminds us of our need to be engaged in being light in a very dark world. Some scenes will grip and haunt you, some passages you will want to run away from - but this is real life. And real life requires true Christ followers to act justly and love mercy. May Adanna’s story inspire and embolden you.”

That is exactly what happened to me. I’ve always had a passion for the hungry, the hurt and the abandoned and I love Swaziland and its people ~ but reading this book started a change in me ... a shift in how I thought about others … how I see myself in relation to others …I experienced true compassion. Not just that “shame, the poor things” or “it’s so sad” type of feeling but gut wrenching compassion.

Swaziland has one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates and we know that there are thousands of orphans in the country, but that might be all we know. We don’t realize the huge impact it has on these people’s lives, we don’t know how they live each and every day, we are not aware of their true every day struggles. But knowing makes it so much more personal and real. The plights of the children are basically the following:

“ Both of her parents died from AIDS, then a distant uncle took her in. Her life was reduced to the life of a slave. She was forced to work fifteen hours a day, and her uncle sold her body to men in the community so he could have money for alcohol. Then he began violently raping her on a daily basis.” (From Scared by Tom Davis)

That is the story of so many little girls in Africa. The Swazi Observer of March 8, 2010 reported:

"ABOUT 80 children have been raped in Swaziland in the last two months, police have said. Statistics released by late last week indicate that from January to the end of February, at least 121 rape incidents were reported in the country, and more than two-thirds of these involved children. Such alarming figures have fuelled the call for urgent passing of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Bill into law.

Police Director of Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Senior Superintendent Leckinah Magagula has raised an alarm, especially to women and children - who are major targets of abuse. Senior Superintendent Magagula encouraged parents to keep a ‘hawk-eye' on their children, particularly during the current marula season. The seasonal marula brew and alcohol abuse had been cited as the leading cause for most rape cases in the country. Magagula said a number of children were raped on the way home after school and some at their respective homes.

Police have warned that most children were raped by people well known to them. The statistics show that they are in danger from their siblings, parents, uncles, neighbors and helpers. The unprecedented increase in rape cases has fuelled police to call upon parliament to urgently pass the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Bill to Law. Senior Superintendent Magagula observed that the country was using outdated laws with light penalties against the perpetrators. She prayed that parliament would apply the same urgency it shows when passing the Human Trafficking Law. The country is stuck with pre-colonial laws such as the Crimes Act of 1889 and the Girls and Women's Protection Act of 1920. In essence, such laws cripple the efficiency of the judicial system and do not effectively address the evolving trends of abuse. "It is high time perpetrators are given harsher sentences," she said.

The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill have been tabled in both Houses of Parliament and this legislation seeks to address some major gaps which appear in the current laws dealing with sexual offences and domestic violence. For instance, it has broadened the definition of rape to cover not only unlawful sexual intercourse with another but also unlawful sexual acts committed under certain circumstances, including any coercive manner, under false pretence or by fraudulent means, under duress, fear of violence or psychological oppression."

That might be the story of some little girls in your hometown. I can hear you say, “What?” It is true, a few friends and I had a quick soup-run in my hometown a while ago and I was stunned at what I saw. We had families evicted from their homes, people wandering the streets because they had nowhere else to go, and YES, 12 -13 years old child prostitutes. This was within a 3-kilometer radius from my home ~ abuse, poverty, death, and destruction are all on my doorstep. This reality made me realize that I cannot ignore my responsibility any longer; I cannot pretend that it is not my problem or that I cannot be part of a solution.

Yes, Adanna’s story did “embold” me to take a step and do something. It did shake me into action. And it was not that difficult and definitely not that impossible. We can sit around in our comfort zones and think of excuses not to get involved or we can get off our couches and start making a difference. The choice is yours. Get involved where you are, find out what is the available platforms where you can get involved. Ask, “Where can I serve”?

If you want to read a life-changing book get a copy of Scared.

Go and visit the Scared publicity page at  Scared   or  Tom Davis' Blog for more on Swaziland and the plight of the vulnerable in the rest of the world.

I by no means want you to feel guilty, but I do want you to realize that we are ineffective and comfortable in our comfort zones and the time has come that we become "doers". The world around us will not change if we sit around and wait. The time is now and the place right where you are.

(Photograph by Werner Diedericks)

A preview of Tom's next book PRICELESS here.

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