How Real is The Realm? (Part I)
I was talking with a friend of mine the other night. About a year ago, he read my first book, The Realm: The Awakening Begins. He really liked it. But as we talked, I realized he thought the book was written about some made up fantasy world, nothing like our own. Really? I was surprised, but maybe I shouldn’t be. When I read some of the first chapter to a group of 10 and 11 year olds, and it mentioned Graisia rummaging through the dump for her job . . . they laughed. They thought it was funny. Really? I asked them if they knew there are actually thousands of children around the world who live this way today—children who don’t go to school and are forced to work for a living in ways that include dump-digging. That sobered them up quite quickly. They weren’t as callused as I initially thought. Just uninformed.
To be technically accurate, I did make up the country of Kahitsa’an and the slum town of Sawtong, but the setting was meant to be modern day and as realistic as possible (In case you’re wondering, in my mind, Kahitsa’an is in the Philippine Sea). I did research for years, asking friends who’d worked with kids in settings like Sawtong, reading books, traveling and seeing things I’d rather weren’t real. It affected me, and I’ll never be the same. Which is why I wanted to share a bit of what I saw and found with others. One of the first steps of change is bringing awareness.
I remember going along the streets of Kolkata, India and seeing a mother and her children digging through a pile of garbage alongside a dog. It pierced my heart and I was speechless. I remember seeing little boys who worked as shoe-shiners in Quito, Ecuador. They were taking a lunch break and playing soccer in a park with an empty plastic bottle as their ball. Not far away, a very young boy and girl found a discarded mushy banana under a bush and ate it ravenously. These are the kinds of things that left me altered . . . and longing to tell some of their story. We can make a difference.
You might ask, “What can I do?” Well, besides just writing about it, I decided to sponsor a child. Sponsoring children can allow them to get an education when they might not otherwise get one. What you want to do might be something different. There are myriads of ways to make this world a better place. You can check out this page where I’ve listed a bunch of ways I’ve found to make a difference. But I’d love to hear your ideas as well!
Next week . . . in Part II of this blog, Are the spiritual elements in The Realm: The Awakening Begins based on reality too? Come back next week or subscribe to my blog and find out!