I found Kris Holloway’s Monique and the Mango Rains at a local book sale, it’s curled cover and tattered edges declaringing it much-beloved and well read.
The story details Holloway’s two year Peace Corps mission in the West African country of Mali, where she was hosted and befriended by Monique Dembele, the local health worker and midwife.
There is no electricity in the willage of Nampossela, much less internet or modern medical care. Childbirth in Nampossela occurs in a mud and cement room, where Dembele’s equipment consists of a few tightly rationed doses of midication to help ease hemmorraghing, needle and thread, and clean hands, often sans gloves. Yet, despite the costrictions, common threads of humanity connect the reader to this story, no matter their race or economic status. It is a story about love and loss, family ties and feuds, and indomittable spirit. Monique is quick to laugh, though she could easily sink into depression, and few would blame her. There is blood and death and sickness, lurking in doorways, creeping through huts and minds, but there is joy as well, and a friendship that knows no boundaries.