Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Kris Holloway (page 3)
 Talking with
Kris Holloway
page 1
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What has the reaction been to the book?

I’m thrilled when readers love it, of course! One woman said it made her think of following her heart; it made her believe that ordinary people can make a difference. Another said she would never think about African women the same again. I thought, “wow if this book affects one more person in such a way — my work is done!” I knew Monique’s story touched me deeply (hence the reason I spent five years writing it), but didn’t know if it would touch others in the same way. I’m also surprised by how people relate to the female issues in the book — the stories of lack of control over childbearing or birth control, of rape, and of domestic violence. Women have said “ I,” or “my sister,” or “my friend” – “have suffered the same, and yet go on just like Monique did.” That has been remarkable.

Are you in touch with her family?

I’m thrilled to report that all three of Monique’s children – her two daughters, and her son, are enrolled in school. I can’t tell you what an achievement this is, considering their mother is dead and their father was initially against their schooling. It’s all due to the support of Monique’s siblings in Mali, and the generous funding from people here in the States.
     Monique’s sister Angele has kept her vow to become a midwife and continue Monique’s work. She received her degree last year and will soon be practicing on her own. Monique’s brother will be installed as a priest in 2007, and we’re invited back for the big ceremony — John and I plan to return to Mali and bring our children for the first time.
     Monique’s cousin Maxim has started a rural birthing house and health clinic in Monique’s honor called Cabinet de soins Monique or “Clinique Monique.” Currently, he is able to perform minor surgeries and conduct prenatal visits, but his dream is to provide obstetrical care as well. For this, he will need to construct a new building. Another birthing house in an area with the fewest doctors and nurses of anywhere in the world! Monique would have been thrilled. Proceeds from the book will go for capital improvements and program development at this clinic.

You met your spouse in the Peace Corps?
  

Yes. In fact, this book tells the story of our meeting. I was from small town Ohio, and he was from even smaller town New Hampshire. We were both members of the 30% Club — a joke, really, but based on the fact that our Peace Corps trainers told us that 70% of all Peace Corps Volunteers eventually marry other Volunteers — lots of us wanted to buck that trend. Guess we didn’t succeed. John and I lived apart for a year in Mali — an 8-hour motorcycle ride through hell apart — then together for a year. We got engaged in Egypt traveling home, and married in Ohio. He has been a huge part of the writing and research for this book.

Where do you live now?

Northampton, Massachusetts. “Where the coffee is strong, and so are the women.”

Do you work outside of raising your children?
Yes. I’ve used my background in writing, and public health and development in several non-profit organizations and institutions, including Planned Parenthood, the University of Michigan, Springfield College, and the Green Belt Movement. When I’m not writing, you can find me fundraising at the National Priorities Project, a national research and education organization that shows the impact of federal spending policies on local communities.
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