Filmmaker & Author, Daphna Ziman at Sacramento Book Signing – DaphnaEdwardsZiman.com
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your debut novel, The Gray Zone, and why this story was so important to tell?
Daphna Ziman: "Well, the story, I kind of wanted to write a book that wasn't just going to deal with the facts of the foster care system and sex trafficking, I wanted to write a book that would entice the reader and would be something that they would love to read, so I'm not hitting them over the head with facts and figures and preaching. I wanted to kind of allow them to go on a journey that they enjoyed and at the same time opened their eyes to what's happening to our children who are the most vulnerable children in our communities."
CR: You've committed your adult life to advocating for children without parents. How did this become such a passion of yours?
DZ: "Once I was exposed to the foster care system, because I adopted my daughter who came out of a homeless mission, and she was abused and neglected; but once I got into it I promised my daughter that I would never turn my back on any child who is in so much need. I also started walking with my destiny because, you know how when you're successful you sort of come home and there's the little bit inside of you and it says to you 'is that all there is?' Well, after I met my daughter, I was actually walking with my destiny and that made me feel like a batter person, like I was actually doing something to make a difference and that's really what created this passion for me, within me to help other children who needed us. These are the most voiceless children in our community. They are removed from their home for no fault of their own, and at best they're stuck in a revolving door of strangers; nobody ever remembers their birthday and so I wanted to make sure that these children understand that somebody cares, and a lot of people care. A lot of foster parents care, it's just that a lot of times these children are moved from home to home and school to school and they don't get the benefits that most of our children do and those benefits are so important for the future of our lives, our country and our community because 78.8% of all inmates in penitentiary come from the child welfare system and that's an unacceptable statistic. It's also unacceptable that 15 out of 16 rapists go without spending one day in jail and yet our girls who are underage that are forced into prostitution are criminalized and immediately they're considered criminals and thrown into protective custody. Those things are kind of backwards and I wanted to do something about it."
CR: The book mentions a mentoring program for foster children. Is it actually a program that's used? If so how is it proving to be successful?
DZ: "Well, I am so happy you asked that question; yes, Children Uniting Nations. If people go on ChildrenUnitingNations.org they'll find out a lot about mentoring, and the reality is that mentoring is crucial for these children. A mentor is the only person who's not paid to be in the child's life and usually they are the only constant in this child's life and there are different kinds of mentors. There's life skilll mentors – these are people who after we do background checks on them and train them, they are matched with a child and they take a child out once every two weeks for a few hours and just do whatever they normally do. By Virtue of that, the child learns what a supermarket is like, what life is like. They begin to feel as part of the community and not ostracized by the community. There's academic mentors (academic mentors are usually university students.) We now have a legislation that Senator Mary Landrieu and Senator Grassley are leading which is to forgive university students loans in exchange for those students to academically mentor our children who've been traumatized. Academic mentors are trained to understand how these children learn because their trauma to these children causes impact on their brain and their cognitive ability, so therefore they learn differently; and we need to learn how to teach them and these people actually help them. So, ultimately through mentoring and occupational mentoring, these children can have a fighting chance at succeeding as contributing citizens."
CR: Your book is fantastic, is there anything in the works that we can look forward to reading or seeing?
DZ: "Well, yes, I'm really excited that I'm writing another book called, How To Divorce A Billionaire, which is kind of a dramedy; but mostly I would like your audience to please go on Amazon.com and order The Gray Zone because proceeds from this book will go to help our children."
The Gray Zone by Daphna Edwards Ziman – Amazon.com