Intercultures

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Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village

by Dr. James Maskalyk (Author)
Publisher: Random House of Canada/Doubleday Canada

"People are hungry to be brought closer to the world, even its hard parts. I went to Sudan, and am writing about it again, because I believe that which separates action from inaction is the same thing that separates my friends from Sudan. It is not indifference. It is distance. May it fall away."

In 2007 James Maskalyk set out for the contested border town of Abyei, Sudan, as a doctor newly recruited by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Equipped with his experience as an emergency physician in a downtown hospital and drawn to the hardest parts of the world, Maskalyk spent his days treating malnourished children, coping with a measles epidemic and watching for war. Worn thin by the struggle to meet overwhelming needs with few resources, he returned home six months later more affected by the experience, the people and the place than he had anticipated.

Six Months in Sudan began as a blog that Maskalyk wrote from his hut in Sudan in an attempt to bring his family and friends closer to his hot, hot days. It is the story of the doctors, nurses and countless volunteers who leave their homes behind to ease the suffering of others, and it is the story of the people of Abyei who suffer its hardship because it is the only home they have. With great hope and insight, Maskalyk illuminates a distant place and chronicles the toll of war on one community, one man, and the cost of it to all of us.

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

By Kris Holloway; Consulting Editor John Bidwell

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.