By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Former University of Central Oklahoma professor Hall Duncan was among the featured authors at the recent Edmond Authors Book Fair held at the Edmond Historical Society.
Along with Duncan, the free public event included over forty local authors with book topics ranging from serious to comedic.
Duncan’s new book, Escape to Macaya, tells the story of a teenager’s horrific experiences as a child-slave in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His life becomes a daily hell of hopelessness, starvation, beatings, little sleep and no school.
A rare mountain creature, a hutia, becomes the boy’s ally. The surprise ending gives hope and courage. Readers will want to eliminate child slavery wherever it exists.
“One thing that propelled me to do this book was having observed child slavery myself.” Duncan said. I’ll never forget a child in Asia that had been mutilated, his tongue had been partially removed so he would seem even more pitiful while begging in the streets.”
Duncan’s’ illustrated sidebars educate the reader and provide resources for further study on the issue of slavery.
Personal family trauma also inspired Duncan’s story.
“This book is helping me work through a very traumatic time in my life,” Duncan admitted. “I learned for the first time a few years ago that two of my children had been raped in their school in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
“I was furious,” Duncan said. “The male teacher involved has since died. We’re researching him now. If I need to someday, I hope to determine how many children were hurt besides my kids.
“Duncan says he also learned when students saw this teacher coming they would run from him, “because he would grab them inappropriately.
“It has messed those boys up for much of their lives. They are now beginning to recover.”
Duncan added, “This is very much like a scene from child slavery where children are dominated by an adult. These kids are helpless.”
He dedicates his book, Escape to Macaya, to his two injured sons.
He writes, “Forgive me for not hearing your cries for help.” He goes on to say, “and to the child slaves in Haiti and around the world, I hear your cries everyday.”
Duncan worked closely researching Escape to Macaya with Ken Bever, President, Hope for Haiti’s Children” and Rev. Jim Jones, of United Methodist Conference School of Missions on Haiti.
“Even in Oklahoma we have conditions where kids are growing up in a situation similar to that of a child slave,” Duncan said.
In 2009 the State Department reported that the US is now the #1 destination for child sex trafficking in the world. Law enforcement reports that with interstates, I-40 and I-35 crossing the state, Oklahoma is in a prime location for child sex traffickers.
The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships issued a report in 2012 that states there are more slaves in America today than ever before, with an estimated 21 million victims across the globe.
President Obama proclaimed last month as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month saying, “I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery.”
Upon his return from South Africa, Duncan taught cartooning and advertising for seventeen years at the University of Central Oklahoma. A resident of Edmond, Duncan was educated in China, Europe, South Africa and the United States.
As director of International Services for the International Center for Humor and Health in Edmond, Duncan has presented workshops on humor and health in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the United States.
A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Duncan has published fourteen illustrated books for children and retirees. His cartoon strips, illustrations and articles have appeared in African, American and European magazines and newspapers.
Since his retirement, Duncan has been involved with educational programs in Ukraine, England, Chile, South Korea, and China.
Escape to Macaya can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or by visiting hallduncan.com.