Category Archives: Other

What Can I Do?

We’ve all seen the pictures, haven’t we? You know the ones of poor African kids in the news headlines and probably thought “Another plea another African begging bowl. BUT, when you see it close up and personal it brings on a whole new meaning.

I visited the Laura Vicuna Education Center in Ennerdale (Southern Johannesburg, and part of the Don Bosco Educational Project.) a few months ago, it touched me so much that after driving out of the rubbish laden roads it is situated in and getting across the highway I had to park my car and cry.

Cry for the amazing efforts that Sister Lidia Castro and the Salesian Sister are doing there as well as a handful of staff with little or no resources. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying for quite a while, which is why I went back.

Charmaine Venter of Umtunzi Exhibitions gave a generous donation for books for a school, so I asked her to accompany me to give books to this school personally. I can tell you my second visit was also an emotional roller coaster, as it was for Charmaine. A roller coaster to see the happy faces of the kids and teachers receiving the books, but sad because when we left we knew they needed more.

They need volunteers to read to the children and help to teach them to read. They need the rubbish dumps around the school cleaned and formalized.

When I last visited Sister Lidia was related a story by one of the other sisters about a 6-year-old child who lived near Orange Farm who walked to school half of the way with her mother who then went to work, the child then walked the remainder through the rubbish tips on her own! We live in a country where a child or woman gets raped every 4 minutes! Why does her mother do it – because it is the best education she can get.

Coupled with this there are many children who attend irregularly as they head up their household and have to care for younger siblings as there are no parents – these are not young adults here people but 10, 11, 12-year-olds who run their homes due to the death of parents usually from HIV/AIDS.

Those who do have parents are supported by their parents scouring the rubbish tips, or if they are lucky they work as housemaids or gardeners often for as little as R100 per day, (That is less than a dollar a day) because they are taken advantage of and most do not have papers.

Pretty grim eh? Well we can change this, if you can volunteer to read to the kids once a week, or better still help teach a learner to read for themselves you would be changing a child’s life forever (74% Grade 4’s cannot read in SA = 74% of 11-year-olds cannot read in their mother tongue) classes are often 50/60 learners to a class, which translates to 6/7 minutes per day per child. So come on folks let’s make a difference.

#SRRS, #PollysPiralympics


Today an Angel Came Down From Heaven

Today an Angel came down from Heaven, tunnel

She said for just a while;

She visited my mum’s sister in hospital

And gave her a beautiful smile.



My aunt was tired the Angel said

And just needed a little rest;

She held her hand and kissed her cheek

And from an Angel was blessed.


The Angel said it was time to leave,

For God was calling them home;

She took her hand and spread her wings

And in a moment was gone.


Today an Angel came down from Heaven

And took my mum’s sister away;

I hope when it’s my turn to leave,

She’ll come for me that day.


Goodbye Auntie Serena, may you rest peacefully with the Angels, I know you were tired and confused, but they will take care of you now.

I hate Alzheimer’s it is a wicked disease that takes a loved one from their family way too early.

Inspiration created when like-mind merge.

Inspiration is created when like-minds merge, it’s amazing, all the neurons start to fire and ideas bounce around the room. It’s as if you can feel the room come alive with characters dancing about the place.


Well, that’s what happened when I met Tammy a young illustrator and aspiring, very, very different author. And oh boy YA readers does she have something different for you – watch this space.

Here is one of her characters and I am very excited to see what she does with my books. Isn’t he just such a darling?

So I am working on books for younger kids and holding thumbs, crossing finger et al that with the help of Councillor Julie Suddaby my books will reach the correct places.

I’M SO EXCITED!!!!! And it all kicked off just a year ago – Thank you, Deborah Du Plooy at Skoobs Theatre of books, you changed my life.



It Could Have Been Me (Tsumani 2004)

Tsunami 2004 – Sri Lanka – To lost friends never forgotten

(It still haunts me.)

‘Something terrible has happened” it’s on the TV,

As I woke Boxing Day morn, with mum calling me;

I’d just left there, making my annual pilgrimage back to the UK,

When disaster struck on that winters day.


As I watched the carnage unfold on the TV screen,

People I knew, places I’d been

Three days ago I was there,

Then it became only a wasteland, the coastline stripped bare.


The telephones rang but with no reply,

As frantically I tried to see if friends were still alive

And soon my mum’s house became a centre for collecting

All manner of household objects, toys and clothing.


Within the month I’d returned back home,

Travelled the coastline to see homes all gone.

80% of the coast affected or damaged,

Broken buildings and bodies, results of the carnage.


And so it began, the influx of peoples

From all corners of the world, to help where it was needed.

We issued out clothing; towels; linen and toys,

To the expectant faces of young girls and boys.


Slowly over the next couple of years,

I’d listen to stories and wipe away tears.

‘The first wave came when my children were at school’

My wife ran down the beach, there was nothing I could do’


Again and again, I listened to the recall,

How the sea rose up into a terrible wall,

Then came crashing down with power and anger

Leaving in its wake debris and danger.

They all perished, in the bungalow, as the wave struck,

Friends I had known, they’d had no luck

It could have been me, there on the beach

As the tsunami hit, safety out of reach.


And so for the next two years the c, ast became home,

As I helped rebuild homes and a Montessori where all village kids would come,

I met many peoples from all corners of the earth,

All helping rebuild lives and give meaning and worth.


I remember morning showers, a bucket, rope and a well,

Then swimming lessons on the beach, just this side of the swell,

There were times too of laughter as the tears slowly dried,

As we danced in the moonlight, remembering friends and sighed.


Piece by piece, homes were rebuilt,

As piece by piece I relinquished my guilt

Of being alive, when so many had perished

At the edge of the jungle, on a beach, I had cherished.


Their faces are engraved in a corner of my mind,

Tucked away safe forever, a memory to find.

I still recall the elephant song the children sang

As I left the village, shaking each by the hand.


Now on the eve of that fateful day,

I want to take the time to say,

I remember all who lost someone to the Tsunami

For there but for the Grace of God went I


26th December 2004, Sri Lanka’s Tsunami. Just three days earlier I had been there, and it could have been me!

To lost friends and strangers – you are not forgotten


©JEW December 2011

Children’s Independent Authors do it for themselves.

Children’s Independent Authors do it for themselves.

Independent Authors or Indies as we like to be known, are authors who do not have the backing of a publisher, often because of the country they live in, like us in South Africa, and sometimes through choice.

I love being an Indie. I choose my own destiny. That means hard work, lots of hard work, I mean really lots of hard work, but amazingly rewarding.

A while back there was some chitter-chatter and an author I admire immensely remarked that Indies need to do it for themselves in their own genre. Well, that was it, the seed was sown and I banded together the most amazing group of Indies on this planet – Kim Hunter, Corne Groenewald, Christina Harman, Robbie Cheadle and Fatuma Abdullah to help me. This Saturday we will be hosting our own Children’s Book Fayre, so if you want something for the kids to do come and join us, plus meet some awesome Children’s Authors pop in we’d love to see you.

Look out for the Akiki, Sir Chocolate, Silly Willy, Liam and Polly’s Piralympic Series’ as well as many, many more books.

WIN, WIN, WIN with our raffle and let the kids have a great day out. WHAT BETTER WAY TO START THE HOLIDAYS.

Women’s Day Delight

Today was Women’s Day in South Africa, and what better way to kick it off than with amazing present.

When I checked my Facebook these wonderful drawings awaited me.


His dad and I had a bit of a conversation that went like this:



Check out the treasure map trousers – you will definitely be seeing those in a future book. Well done Logan, absolutely brilliant if you ask me. and here’s that artist himself – crewmate Logan from the UK. I think Stuie you have an awful lot to be proud of with your young man.