Seven Months in South Africa (Paperback)
This short novel is a modern day "Out of Africa" feminist travel adventure memoir. Guided by a desire to serve and an interest in adventure, Valerie, a 26-year-old American woman, moved sight-unseen to a game reserve in rural South Africa in 2010. Her job was to manage a small non-profit focused on empowering women and providing pre-school education to some rural Zulu communities. She spent seven wild months working with Zulu community members with the assistance of translators, including social work such as ensuring sick children who could not afford transport could go to the hospital, and family-friendly community events such as movie nights in a mud brick church building with a projector and generator. She navigated intense racial tensions and taught numerous conflict resolution classes, though whites and Zulu were only willing to be taught separately. When politics on the game reserve heated up to life-threatening dangerous levels, she sacrificed her job so that reserve employees and community members could speak directly to the game reserve owner about racist and unethical treatment. And while biking through the game reserve to the office each day, she managed to avoid being attacked by wild buffalo.
Valerie Ringland is an American who worked internationally as an advocate for human rights, a mediator and restorative justice facilitator since earning a JD in 2009. She is currently completing a PhD in social work on indigenous approaches to understanding and healing trauma.