Tom and Jane Benyon, and their dog Moses, are walking to raise money for the bereft and suffering in Zimbabwe. The charity, founded by Tom, is called ZANE – Zimbabwe A National Emergency. I joined them for one day of their walk.
I am not at my shiniest at 5.30 am. Last Monday when the alarm went off I was barely alive, every cell in deep sleep.
It was so comfortable … until I was suddenly jangled awake, by the thought of trying to explain to Tom and Jane that I would not be joining them on the walk due to sleepiness.
I set off to find them somewhere in Warwickshire. The car radio warned of a hot day ahead.
Here’s the update: the book, first published as a hardback in 2009 by Merlin Unwin, has been published again this year as a high quality paperback. The publishers say that “it is most readily available throughout Africa via The Book Depository which has the title available for £14.99, with free delivery worldwide”.
Innocent Victims is a true story, based on the first hand accounts of the Chief Inspector for the ZNSPCA (Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Meryl Harrison, who, in the early 2000s, travelled widely around the farming districts of the country as they were being wrenched apart by land reform. Supported by a small team, her mission was to rescue the animals from farms where the owners had been forced off by unpredictable, aggressive mobs, often in situations that had spiralled violently out of control.
It was an emotional, empowering read for me, as much about courage and loyalty, as it is about mayhem, and at its core is Meryl’s persistent, brave determination to help the stranded animals.
In the audio clip below I say a little more about the book, and read the first four and a half pages of Chapter One. These start with the dog that inspired Meryl and her team to begin their rescues.