American nurse-midwife Linda Robinson spent a year working in Shamwana, a small remote village deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sent to Africa by Doctors Without Borders, Linda found herself in a community traumatized by a decade of war and famine. The bleak landscape, once teeming with animals and vegetation, had been stripped bare by people desperate to survive. As she worked to care for women and their families, Linda came to know their extraordinary suffering and their equally extraordinary strength.
Her letters home each Sunday morning, written to make sense of the overwhelming challenges she was facing, provide a loving picture of the people who both inspired and depended on her. We learn of the stamina and love of Gerardine and Beatrice, the local midwives; of Benson the devoted Congolese physician who worked in conditions unimaginable in other parts of the world; of wise Mario, the Muslim Unimog driver who accompanied Linda as she visited villages where children were dying of measles, and invited her into his family.
The book gives an eye-opening account of the day-to-day reality of a fieldworker in the African bush, and the trials and triumphs of work with an international aid organization. Linda’s voice is vivid, quirky, wise and brave. At once heart-wrenching and humorous, joyful and filled with grief, her riveting narratives allow us to encounter the realities of childbirth and survival in a time of war. She expresses her own horror, frustration, and small victories while questioning the limits of human strength, the role of international aid, and the meaning of her place in the world.