I’m not sure what sparked the idea to write a story involving orphans when asked to contribute a novella for the SPLASH! boxed set with eight other international authors. Perhaps it was because my mother was an orphan. At the tender age of eight, she lost her father. Because they were a family of eleven children, she and three siblings were shipped off to an orphanage. She’d often tell us stories about the eight long years she spent there.
The Bible has some beautiful verses about orphans. Deuteronomy 10:18 says that:
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.
I chose John 14:18 as the theme verse for my newly released novella, Orphaned Hearts:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
With the criteria for SPLASH! being a summer story set beside water, and the request for a story in Africa, I knew there was no other location for this story than along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, Zambia. Research was interesting, but heartbreaking. I didn’t know until researching this novella, that Zambia, with more than one million orphans, has the highest per capita orphan rate in the world.
I was saddened by this statistic, because this country is special to me—it’s where I was born. My parents left Zambia and returned to South Africa when I was only six. Forty years passed before I got the opportunity to return to the land of my birth for two brief visits.
The idea for orphans in my story extends beyond children, however. It also incorporates the orphaned elephants of Africa, and these orphans’ stories are just as sad and tragic. After writing Orphaned Hearts, I decided to adopt an orphaned elephant through David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. There are several places in Africa where one can adopt elephants (and other endangered wildlife), some not even that far from where I live. For obvious reasons, though, I chose to support a Zambian elephant. My African elephant, Chamilandu (and no, I’m not the only one supporting her) was orphaned as a baby because of ivory poachers. For now she’s being lovingly raised in an elephant orphanage in Zambia. It will be several years, but one day she will be released back into the wild.
I have several amazing friends who’ve committed to raising the orphans of Africa, adopting them into their families as their own sons and daughters. James 1:27 is powerful:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Simon Hartley and Abigail Chadwick of Orphaned Hearts, each do their part for the orphans of Africa. You can read their story in SPLASH! or in the stand-alone novella released on Friday. Readers can purchase a copy from any of the following places: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; iTunes; iBooks; Kobo
Will his past, or her future, keep their hearts orphaned?
When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time, or desire, to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.
Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport . . . until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.
Now only fears born of his loss, and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind, can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.
Other titles by Marion Ueckermann