When I learned that Winning Kids Inc. had decided to extend its hand of grace to help alleviate some of the suffering of African children, I felt some impatience. With issues of abuse spiraling into ever-widening circles in North America, why, for goodness sake, would we lose focus and shift our attention from the suffering of abused children in North America? Why would we even consider contributing to the alleviation of atrocities that we can’t possibly understand and expect to make even a tiny dint in the inhumane conditions that have plagued a continent rampant with disease and corruption for generations?
I was happy to have the African Children’s Choir coming to perform for us at the Nov. 20th Fifth Anniversary celebration of Winning Kids Inc. and the launch of my book, "Predators Live Among Us – Protect Your Family From Child Sexual Abuse." The children are so adorable in their colourful costumes and they would definitely attract people to the event – but turn the event into a fund-raiser for the group? Couldn’t we just give them an honorarium and raise funds for expanding our efforts with North American kids?
And then I received an advertisement on my iPad for a book called, "Scared," by Tom Davis. The e-book would be free on the first and second of November. I like free things and so clicked the “download” button. Little did I realize that "Scared" is not a book to be read by anyone who wants to lounge in a comfortable chair and be entertained by a writer with a gift for braiding words. It is a gripping novel that bumps you along a clay road, the air thick with dust, and makes you taste sweaty fear and live in the middle of atrocities that tear your innards from your belly to your heart. As if that weren’t enough, it throws a precious child into the vortex of terror, stands back and watches the reader squirm, biting his or her nails, not daring to read another word - yet totally unable to abandon the vulnerable people of the pages. Dear little Adanna, sweet child. Adanna – fatherless, starving, valiantly struggling to provide food for her younger siblings, then falling into horrendous calamity...
"Scared" is an in-your-face novel that, like a scruffy dog, shakes the self-absorbed, polished world of the iPad user from its North American moorings and lays it, whimpering, at the feet of reality. It then asks, “Now what are you going to do about it?”
The person who began this article is not the person finishing it. I, ashamed, am now someone who has walked a little further down the road. We who claim to put ourselves forth on behalf of abused children do so for abused children wherever they are. We do not dilute our efforts by reaching beyond our borders – we strengthen them. The further we stretch with our arms, the longer our arms become and the greater our embrace.
So now I look at the African Children’s Choir and I see beyond the happy smiles, the colourful twirling and the brave voices; I see the dangers that threaten to overtake these precious little ones without our help. I see pornography production crews grabbing children, drug lords stuffing murdered children full of drugs and couriering their bodies across country borders, sweatshops and inhumane bosses. I see the sale of child brides, child prostitution, AIDS victims raping little virgins in the belief that it will cure their AIDS. I see four-year-old hawkers and beggars. I hear the AK47s splitting the night air as villages are looted and petrified children are stolen to be turned into terrorists. And I see my tears. Thank God I see my tears. Thank God I am alive and I care.
There are those who snub their noses at novels, claiming that documentaries, biographies and news stories have more weight in acquainting the masses with world issues – but in this instance I disagree. Sometimes, in order to find the reality of an issue, we need to connect with the vulnerability and humanity of a person who symbolizes the heighth, depth and breadth of an issue. We need a sweet little Adanna to move our hearts from North American complacency to the purpose for our lives.
As we celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Winning Kids Inc. and the Year of the Child, please consider a generous donation to the African Children’s Choir.
© Diane Roblin-Lee November 15/12