Title: Monique and the Mango Rains: The Extraordinary Story of Friendship in a Midwife’s House in Mali
Author: Kris Holloway
Blurb: Monique Dembele saves lives and dispenses hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. Her unquenchable passion to improve the lot of the women and children in her West African village is matched by her buoyant humour in the face of unhappy marriage and backbreaking work. This is the deeply compelling story of the rare friendship between a young development volunteer and this midwife who defies tradition and becomes – too early in her own life – a legend.
My Thoughts: MONIQUE AND THE MANGO RAINS is set in a small village in Mali, West Africa. Author Kris Holloway served there as a member of the Peace Corps for two years where she was assigned to the remote village of Nampossela. Kris lived in the village and worked with the local midwife, Monique, weighing babies, delivering babies and trying to educate the woman in an attempt to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths. Kris’s main focus, other than avoiding scorpions and snakes in her hut, was to set up the funding for renovating the birthing house so it was clean and protected women from the elements. It was a constant battle to promote good hygiene and nutrition habits; birth control, and caring for babies. Reality is not excluded; women die in childbirth, small children came to the clinic grievously ill and beyond help, many Malian children die before their 5th birthday solely due to ingrained poor nutrition and hygiene practices. Even the topics of female circumcision, abuse and rape are covered, but not in a preachy way – it is just stated and recognised as a problem, and that women are working towards addressing the issues. However the star of the book is Monique – educated and switched on, she could have gone anywhere and made a better life for her and her children. Instead she uses her talents to try and bring good health and change to her village where many (especially the men and older women) are resistant to the progress that the modern world has already made. Sometimes she was overwhelmed fighting for basic resources that everyone else takes for granted – but one person can make a difference – and Kris worked side by side with Monique developing a close friendship. This is an easy to read book despite some of the more heartbreaking scenes, upbeat at times as life is not all gloom and doom, and certainly gives a peep into another culture. I would recommend MONIQUE AND THE MANGO RAINS as a story of friendship in the main, and a warts and all look at life in another culture as a background.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
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