Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway

genre: memoir/travel

When Kris Holloway arrived in Mali as a Peace Corp volunteer, she knew that she was in for a serious cultural experience.  She wanted to make a difference and find a sense of community in this West African country.  The person who helps make this possible is young woman named Monique - a midwife and health worker in the small village where Kris has been assigned to live.  Under Monique's wing, Kris learns about prenatal and infant care, how to make babyfood out in the bush and yes, helps her at dozens of births.  But not only is Kris helping Monique - their relationship becomes a very real friendship as their lives intertwine and Monique brings Kris into the circle of her family0.  Despite all the things that might make it difficult, these two women create a real partnership as they both try to better the lives of the women and children in the village. 

I really enjoyed reading this for several reasons.  It is very readable - beautiful but never wordy, honest without being graphic - our narrator is familiar and friendly.  It's also an incredible cultural story, she lived in Mali before processed foods and electricity arrived in the village, where you traveled by donkey cart if you couldn't borrow someone's moped.  The medical aspect was also a big piece - how LITTLE these people have.  Monique, who was trained for about nine months, was THE person to help them if there was a medical need.  So much hunger (especially among young children), cancer without any prayer of treatment, any sort of trauma in childbirth and almost certainly either the mother or the child wouldn't make it.  It made me think about female circumcision, the miracle of birth control, husband/wife relationships and how differently we "westerners" raise our children.

If you are interested in midwifery or African culture or any kind of book that just takes you to a completely different part of the world, this is worth picking up.

note: if you're interested in the content of the books I read, please go to http://ratedreads.com


bermudaonion said...

I didn't realize this is a true story. I'll have to look for it.

zapkode.marie said...

{new follower here}

TS's are some of my favorite books to read. Thank you for sharing.


Trixie said...

I have been looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for your review.

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