title: Monique and the Mango Rains
Author: Kris Holloway
yearly count b: 84
Kris Holloway, a volunteer for the peace corps develops an intimate friendship with her assigned host for her two-year stay in Mali. Her host is Monique, the midwife that successfully is birthing thousands of babies into the world. Monique is an amazing woman of strength, zest and endurance in a patriarchal society where she isn't even allowed to pick up her own pay check. Kris Holloway writes Monique and the Mango Rains in such a way that for it not to pull on your heart you'd have to be inhuman. She follows Monique and becomes her assistant for her time in Mali. Mali's numbers didn't look good, 1 in 12 woman died in childbirth then in the nation of Mali. Holloway learned the gift a midwife could bring into each woman's home, the gift of a child and the gift of health for the family.
Monique didn't just birth babies, she did all the prenatal check ups, she weighed the moms and babies and children to chart their health and let the moms know if they should take notice of sudden and severe weight loss, or other health issues. Monique teaches the mothers to make nutritious baby foods that will change the lives of the kids, and she teaches them about other health issues such as how to purify water and not get sick.
This testimony of Kris Holloway about her experiences in Mali is so impressive, so amazing and it is real the whole way through. Monique constantly gives of herself, even when she knows the outcome of the births will many times be unsuccessful, she works with the women of her village to promote how things can change. One thing that really stood out to me was her desire to get birth control for the women, it was a matter of health for the women since with each baby their chances were worse of not making it through the next. She planned and worked out ways to provide this birth control to the women of her community. Another is female circumcision, which I had heard about, but never in the detail that this book goes into. I was amazed to learn that in the day when Holloway was there it was a very common practice, and it was not done by doctors or midwives but by a selected female family member. Many horrors came from these women using no pain medication, no sterilized instruments, and cutting with whatever they had. The circumcision was performed to enhance the females ability to get pregnant and birth healthy children, however this was another ritual that had taken place for so long, and proved to actually do much damage and no good. Monique worked to inform the villagers of this.
What are my thoughts? I really, really, really was moved by this read. Kris Holloway does an excellent job with the writing, and it is an intriguing read. I love learning about different cultures, about their beliefs, old wifes tales, and their communities. I know that this was told from an outsiders perspective, because as much as Holloway did live there for two years, she still was an outsider, but her passion is so strong that it passes through the national boundaries. Monique is not only Holloway's hero, she is mine as well, what an amazing lady!! She did so much, gave so much and in return asked for nothing.
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