It is often interesting to know why an author chose to write a particular story.
����� First, in order for me to explain this reason, I need to tell you a little about my background. I have worked as a teacher, then as a child psychologist in schools, and finally as a lecturer and professor in two South African universities.
����� It is only since my retirement some twelve years ago that I had the time to start writing stories for both young children and older adolescents. Because of my professional background - and particular interest in reading development � all my published short stories and novels have an underlying purpose. And that purpose is to bring to young people reading material that is not only interesting and that they can relate to their personal lives, but also carries with it something that could be useful in their own psychological development.
� ����All of my three novels in this Xlibris series (see the relevant titles of the other two novels below) have an underlying developmental theme and purpose. And this is to provide stories that I hope may help them deal with the painful feelings and, often, their practical difficulties which have to be faced when someone has lost a loved one.
����� Perhaps even more important, each of the stories also tells, in its own way, how the main character overcomes and rises above her or his grief and difficulties. Differing in each case, this recovery comes not only from the help and support of one or more friends, relatives, neighbours and teachers but also, significantly, from the determination and courage of each of the main characters.
����� In order to help you to relate these important elements to your own life, and perhaps to the lives of other young people whom you may know, I have added two short sections at the end of each book. The first provides you with a number of �Questions to think about� and the second with a few carefully chosen �Activities� for you to undertake if you choose to do so.
���� However, even though it may take a little effort, please follow through on both of the above elements as they will most definitely help you get the most out of each story.�����
Second, I believe that an author of any fictional story needs to be personally familiar with the place and the language* and culture of the people who live there. Without this element, the story will simply not feel authentic or �real� to any reader wherever they happen to live in the world.
����� My hope, again, is that this will be true for you.
*In each of my three novels, I have a list at the end of the novel of the English translations, and a guide to the pronunciation of, those important names, words and phrases in the African languages that I have chosen to use in the respective novels. I hope that this information may contribute to the authenticity of the stories as you read them.
The titles of my other two Xlibris Corporation novels in this series are:
The story that I have written below grew out of an actual experience.
���� It all started when an organisation in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa asked a colleague and me to do some research with the orphans in the organisation�s project. The organisation wanted to find out if it was really being effective in helping the orphans as opposed to other children in the community who lived in homes where an adult or adults (called �adult headed households�) were looking after them. (In the case of the orphans, where no adults were looking after them, the term, �child headed households�, was used.)
���� We wanted to find out what problems the orphans in child headed households had to face, and whether these were different to the problems faced by other children who lived in the same poor community in the adult headed households. We also wanted to find out how the orphans coped with their problems, and what strengths they had learned in living alone or only with their younger brothers and sisters. So we asked them to draw maps of the areas in which they lived and to tell us what their lives were like there.
����� All the orphans who lived without adults had been through very difficult times and stressful experiences. Most of them had not only lost their mothers, but other members of their families had also been sick and died, or had died in other ways. In a few cases, the cause of death was either not known or not stated by the orphans. All of these children carried great sadness and pain in their hearts, and few of them had been able to talk to anyone who could help them with their painful memories.
���� This is what one of them told us:
���� I could see that she was sick. I used to help her and eventually I left school and stayed with her. I would wash her, cook for her. I wished there could be an adult who could help us.
������ Although the orphans had many problems, they had also learned some very useful things that helped them to cope with their difficulties. Most important, all of them had learned that if you help neighbours or others, you often get help in return as this girl described:
����� When I am sad about something or when I do not have something in the house where I stay, I go to this aunt here, Ma Vilakazi. She is the one who will solve my problem. When I do not have mealie meal she would give me money and after buying it I will go back to her home and check if there isn�t anything I can help her with. When I am sad I go to Ma Vilakazi.���
����� Close friends of their own age were also important. Orphans were able to talk about their problems with these friends, like this one:
������ These are my friends that I talk to when I need to talk to or when there is something I am feeling bad about.��
����� Most of the orphans found it difficult to afford the costs of attending school. But they all knew that school was important if they were going to make it on their own. So they worked to earn the money � helping to build people�s houses, cutting wood, selling cigarettes or washing clothes, like this girl: