Abela – The Girl Who Saw Lions

If God listened to songs, he would surely hear hers, he would see the golden stream of her voice and listen to the words that floated inside it.


Abela – The Girl Who Saw Lions, is actually the story of two girls. One lives in Tanzania, the orphaned child of a family stricken with HIV/Aids. When her uncle sends her to England, her grandmother thinks she is going to a better life; but she is involved in child trafficking and Abela faces a bleak future as an asylum seeker. Her mother’s dying words to her had been ‘Be strong, my Abela, be strong,’ and this inspires her with the courage to survive.

The other girl is Rosa, who lives in Sheffield with her mother. They do everything together, including learning to skate at IceSheffield. Rosa can’t imagine anything changing in her life, until one day her mother tells her she is thinking of adopting another child. Rosa is devastated. “What if I had said to her, ‘I’m thinking of adopting another mother?’”

Ultimately, Abela is a story of love, understanding and hope, as both girls strive to overcome their childhood sorrows.

Imbyai Parsalau

My inspiration for Abela came when I visited Tanzania some time ago and was struck by the beauty of the people, the animals, and the landscape I knew I wanted to write about it. I was encouraged by two VSO workers to tackle the subject of HIV/Aids in Africa. I have also been interested in the subject of adoption for many years, having been a social worker in a family placement unit in Leicestershire at the beginning of my working life. I have written about adoption (The Snake-stone) and orphans (Street Child) before, and know they are sensitive and delicate subjects to write about, but in Abela I have been inspired by a different landscape to research and write an even more ambitious novel. I’m indebted to the many people who talked to me along the way.

Two quotes from children in South Africa:

"I enjoyed reading this book because it made me feel like I was Abela for a day. Abela was a strong girl, she knew almost everything that I did not know in life. She overruled things that even an adult did not know. It was like I was a readaholic after I read Abela so thank you to the author of Abela."

"I loved reading Abela – I even stopped watching TV and seeing my friends."

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