So the manuscript is almost finished! I am looking for publishers and Agents who may be interested. A warm summer day in early 1975 I drove to Macmillan Educational Publishers in Melrose, Johannesburg, thick darkening clouds were building overhead; a sign of a thunderstorm typical of the Highveld at this time of year. I had received a phone call from Rose, the publisher’s administration assistant, who said they had a proposal for me. Doug Venter, the publisher, asked me if I would consider writing text books for black schools. It was apartheid. What did I know of the context needed for black children? I declined even after we had illegally visited a school in Thokoza and I developed a relationship with the principal and her family. Doug said to me, “If you don’t do it you know someone from Oxford, England will write them, how do you feel about that? I left South Africa in 1976 at the time of the student riots and vowed I would be back. Like so many who exiled, South Africa stayed alive in me.
Touched by Love and Kindness documents my return to South Africa and Zimbabwe, a twenty year commitment of 3-7 months a year, to get to know the people of my country and perhaps to ‘give back’ particularly in this time of great suffering through HIV and AIDS. I initially thought I would write about international development, but I found myself more interested in why I kept coming back and the relationships I entered into with people, communities and HIV and AIDS. I discovered it was less about the organizations I started and the projects funded, and more about the incredible love and kindness or humanity we all experienced, that touched my heart.
The book describes the life experiences that shaped me and prepared me for the intimacy of the work in urban and rural communities, sitting in the heart of the trauma. I introduce readers to men, women and children heading households, facilitating support groups and healing together. I describe situations unusual for an older white woman in South Africa and perhaps open doors to possible healing and understanding after apartheid.
This is an amazing and, for many, a difficult time to be alive. In the craziness of it all, we are called to be conscious and kind to one another. When it comes to climate change, we are one human family working together for the survival of our children and grandchildren. Although a simple woman, I am also a psychotherapist, writer, meditation teacher and activist who speaks up against racism and inequality. Thank you to all who have allowed me to accompany you in your vulnerability and seeking of truth. We are because of one another or UBUNTU as is practiced by many in my birth country, South Africa. Heather Ferris