Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monique and the Mango Rains - Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

by Kris Holloway

Monique and the Mango Rains is a memoir following the friendship of a Peace Corps volunteer and an overworked midwife in Mali It is an honest and heart tugging view of life, especially for women in a lesser developed country.

In the developed world we, as women, take for granted so many things -- the ability to choose our own spouse, clean drinking water and an indoor bathroom, to use birth control or not, being in control of our own finances, giving birth in a safe, clean environment, access to health care and medicines for our children and seeing our children survive childhood. In many countries in the developing world, all of these are considered luxuries -- in Mali, to achieve even one of these is a miracle.

As Monique Dembele's midwife's assistant, Kris Holloway experiences first hand some of the most horrifying statistics in Africa. She weighs a 2 year old child who weighs only 5 kg (11 pounds). She treats the wounds of a woman beaten by her husband because she gave birth to a girl. She attended horrible births only to watch both mother and child die. She watched as Monique's salary was given to her husband who spent it on motorcycles and leather jackets. She helps Monique struggle to aid the women of the village against a lack of education, a lack of resoures and the oppression of a strict patriarchical society.

Yet, for all these differences there are also many similarities - somen depend on each other for support. Just like we go to lunch with our girlfriends to share our joys and frustrations, Malian women meet in the fields or at the well to share the news of the village. Women share the joys and sorrows of marriage, birth and death together. And in Mali, women are also the force behind change and innovation. Monique's determination to bring modern birth control methods and post-natal care to her village are just as radical as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony's crusade for the women's right to vote.

The relationship that develops between Monique and Kris is beautiful. Never, at any time is it an unequal relationship -- both women have so much to teach and offer each other. There is never pity or envy, complaining or preaching, just two women who bring out the very best in each other. Monique and Kris remain close long after Kris's Peace Corp assignment is over. Monique even visits the United States.

In a book that could have been so sad, depressing and hopeless, there was so much love and hope. This book will stay with me for a long time.

Rating - A

1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing, and it has been on my TBR list for a while. I am humbled by all the things I take for granted.