Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years With a Midwife in Mali

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9781577664352: Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years With a Midwife in Mali
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What is it like to live and work in a remote corner of the world and befriend a courageous midwife who breaks traditional roles? Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Mali Midwife is the inspiring story of Monique Dembele, an accidental midwife who became a legend, and Kris Holloway, the young Peace Corps volunteer who became her closest confidante. In a small village in Mali, West Africa, Monique saved lives and dispensed hope every day in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter and where many children are buried before they cut a tooth. Kris worked side-by-side with her as they cared for each other through sickness and tragedy and shared their innermost secrets and hopes.

Monique's life was representative of many women in one of the world's poorest nations, yet she faced her challenges in extraordinary ways. Despite her fiercely traditional society and her limited education she fought for her beliefs birth control, the end of female genital mutilation, the right to receive a salary, and the right to educate her daughters. And she struggled to be with the man she loved. Her story is one of tragedy joy, rebellion, and of an ancient culture in the midst of change. It is an uplifting tribute to indomitable spirits everywhere.

Monique and the Mango Rains is a fascinating voyage to an unforgettable place, a voyage spent close to the ground, immersed in village life, learning first-hand the rhythms of this world. From witnessing her first village birth to the night of Monique's own tragic death, Kris draws on her first-person experiences in Mali, her graduate studies in maternal and child health, medical and clinic records, letters and journals, as well as conversations with Monique, her family, friends and colleagues, to gives readers a unique view and a friend in West Africa.

Latest printing includes "2012 Postscript."

Not-for-sale instructor resource material available to college and university faculty only; contact the publisher directly.

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From the Publisher:

Titles of related interest also from Waveland Press: Bohannan-Curtin, Africa and Africans, Fourth Edition (ISBN 9780881338409); Dettwyler, Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa (ISBN 9780881337488); and Jordan (rev. Davis-Floyd), Birth in Four Cultures: A Crosscultural Investigation of Childbirth in Yucatan, Holland, Sweden, and the United States, Fourth Edition (ISBN 978088133714).

From the Back Cover:

". . . tender, revelatory . . . Holloway's moving account vividly presents the tragic consequences of inadequate prenatal and infant health care in the developing world and will interest all those concerned about the realities of women's lives outside the industrialized world." -- Publishers Weekly

"In her first book, Holloway blends a vivid description of her Peace Corps experiences in the West African nation of Mali from 1989 to 1991, with a warm tribute to her colleague, dear friend, and host there, Monique Dembele. Reading Holloway's book is akin to enjoying the slide show presented by a returned Peace Corps volunteer while sampling the local cuisine. Holloway succeeds at simultaneously conjuring up her day-to-day life in an impoverished African village and aptly describing the unrelenting work and life of the devoted midwife there, a woman, like the author, then in her early twenties. The difficult plight of women in Mali is made apparent throughout. While Holloway's story is a personal one (she met her future husband during her Peace Corps stint), the rhythm of life and death in Mali itself shines through all the pages. Holloway uses amusing anecdotes and heartbreaking recollections to transport the reader. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those where there is an interest in African or women's studies." -- Library Journal

"A respectful, unsentimental portrait of a village in Mali, and a moving story of a warm friendship between an American Peace Corps volunteer fresh out of college and a young Malian health worker . . . Holloway does not disguise the realities of life in a poor rural African village, and yet she is never condescending. Her admiration, respect and love for Monique come across as genuine, as does her grief at Monique's death. A poignant and powerful book." -- Kirkus, Starred Review

". . . a truly inspiring story . . ." -- Midwifery Today

"Seen through Holloway's eyes, Monique's life is as compelling as any novel." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Holloway's engaging and respectful inquiry, direct and quiet, is told with confidence. Monique and the Mango Rains bypasses our calloused views and leads us to love and laugh with the amazing individuals who live and work in such dire circumstances." -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"There have been many accounts, mostly by sociologists and anthropologists, of studying people from other cultures. But there have been few accounts of actually being friends with them. Anyone who is curious about what such a friendship feels like from the inside should read this respectful but intimate account of the bond between Kris Holloway and Monique Dembele." -- Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

"Delicious like mangoes in season, you will not be able to put this incredible book down. We witness the stark reality of lives in a third-world country: the fate of babies and young children, of women dying in childbirth. But we are also there for breathtaking descriptions of beauty, generosity, and intimacy." -- Brigitte Jordan, Author, Birth in Four Cultures, Fourth Edition, winner of the Margaret Mead Award

"If you are looking for a book to attract new anthropology majors, this is it!" -- Susan Bodnar-Deren, Sussex County Community College

"This funny, poignant book connects us immediately with women in a far-off land; their triumphs become ours, their struggles become ours. It should be required reading for anyone considering the Peace Corps and for any student of anthropology, international studies, or women's health. It is a tale of the potential of crosscultural friendship and the power of intercultural exchange." -- Carol Bellamy, former executive director of UNICEF and U.S. Peace Corps

"Monique and the Mango Rains is beautifully and frankly written, both an ethnography of Malian healthcare and a coming-of-age memoir of peace corps participation. I entered this book curious about childbirth in rural West Africa, and learned a great deal about gender relations as they shape the meaning of children, development resources, and the many routes to Malian modernity. Like the short, sweet "Mango rains" that punctuate Kristin Holloway's story, this text brings inspiration to its readers." -- Rayna Rapp, Department of Anthropology, New York University

"Kris Holloway's Monique and the Mango Rains is an astounding book. In her brief narrative, Holloway tells an exquisite story of crosscultural friendship, of women's commitment through their work to bettering the lives of other women, and of the contribution that can be made to a Third World society by citizens of the industrialized world when hubris is not part of the equation. This strong, tender memoir is a must read for anyone interested in pan-cultural understanding and the emerging role of women's rights in Africa. But readers, be warned; this beautifully written true tale of hope and love and loss will, like a great novel, break your heart and leave you a changed person." -- Marnie Mueller, author of Green Fires, The Climate of the Country, and My Mother's Island

"Monique and the Mango Rains is the story of two women who could easily have remained strangers, but who chose to ignore the vast differences in their backgrounds and open their hearts to each other and to their common humanity. Through their friendship we learn that ordinary people like Monique Dembele, living in an isolated West African village with few resources, can do extraordinary things. This is a message which deserves to be heard loud and clear, across the globe." -- Irene Butter, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health, University of Michigan

"Kris Holloway Bidwell's Monique and the Mango Rains is a highly readable account of a Peace Corps volunteer who strikes a lifelong friendship with Malian midwife Monique Dembele. It is one of the few personal accounts that describes the pleasures and frustrations of Peace Corps life, while simultaneously informing the reader of the realities of rural African life with its own particular joys and tragedies. I recommend this book for a variety of classes including the Anthropology of Development, Medical Anthropology, and Women's Studies, or to anyone wishing to share the sheer adventure of a young American living, working, and developing friendships in a rural African village." -- Elliot Fratkin, Department of Anthropology, Smith College

"There are many cultural and social nuances that came through the narrative. The story of Monique is the saga of a woman caught in the web of tradition. I hope the book will reach the homes of many in the West so they may know about the lives of their fellow humans battling poverty, underdevelopment and diseases in parts of Africa. I also hope the book will find its way back to Mali where Monique's contemporaries and fellow Malians would begin to take heart that loving souls exist abroad and their condition is being communicated faithfully and passionately." -- Sulayman S. Nyang, Professor African Studies, Howard University

"I enthusiastically recommend this book, for it allows the reader to learn about midwifery and women's issues through the lenses of two very different cultures. It is full of warmth and insight, and having it end was like losing a friend." -- Rahima Baldwin Dancy, midwife, author, and childbirth activist

"Readers will find this memoir emotionally moving, beautifully written, and highly informative." -- Journal of Community Health

"The multiple themes and issues voiced in this narrative provide a useful point of dialogue and reflection for many audiences. Although the subtitle and a great deal of the story focuses on midwifery, and infant and maternal morbidity and mortality, the narrative goes further. For students or teachers of African studies or anthropology, Holloway incorporates information about kinship systems, religion and witchcraft, familial and traditional power relationships, and decision-making processes that affect marriages, jobs, women's status, child-bearing, and community self-help projects." -- African Studies Review

"This is a beautiful story and an experiential journey through the profession of midwifery. I've adopted it for my psychological anthropology course." -- Ron Reminick, Cleveland State University

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