TWO YEARS OF WONDER
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (6/19)
“Two Years Of Wonder” is a memoir by Ted Neill based around his volunteer work with HIV-positive children in the U.S. and Kenya, and his reconciliation of struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.
In 2012 Neill became clinically depressed and tried to kill himself. He often wondered if he had done enough or had done more harm than good. In Chapter 16 Neill, along with his therapist address “Psychic Injury” which puts one at high risk for depression, anxiety and suicide. Psychic injury is a loss of hope, security and trust in self or others, often as the result of close experience with injustice or wrongdoing.
Neill’s writing is brutally honest while giving readers an in-depth feeling of being right there with him, without statistics and intellectual superiority. His narratives of poverty, abuse, death and political corruption in areas of Africa one doesn’t normally hear about will shock you, but at the same time give you hope that even though many die, hopefully, they know someone cares and will do all they can with what little they have.
I appreciate Neill’s honesty and respect for the children he meets as he weaves the stories about them and their struggle to survive to the best of his recollection. Also, I love that he addresses “the great white savior” role that many so-called helpers tout. One can see Neill questioning his motives throughout the book. One particular scene that plays in my mind is when a Belgium film crew comes to the orphanage wanting to do a documentary on children orphaned by AIDS. The producers want to talk to the children about their parents and states, “If we could get a child to cry on camera, it would really be powerful.”
Another incident occurs when missionaries come and want to “do their part” to bring God to the children. They have a certain amount of allotted time to do this, and when their time is up off, they go to their next group of victims that need God in their life. What amazes me is that many of the children realize what is going on, but their faith in humanity is strong, and for just those few minutes they can forget about reality and be kids again.
“Two Years Of Wonder” by Ted Neill will stay with you long after its read. It will give you an inside look at doing charity work, its impact on those who receive help and those who provide it. I highly recommend this to all who are interested in human dynamics, the true conditions of living in a third world and the impact of mental illness.