Author gives voice to voiceless as she advocates open-mindedness


Photographer: Jacob S.

During the most recent Service Learning assembly in the high school, Kris Holloway presented her Peace Corps experiences as foundational for her passions: voicing the realities of women’s lives in the developing world.

Nora K. and Jacob S.

Kris Holloway, author of the critically acclaimed Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali, visited ASD as one of the recent Learning Service speakers to connect with students and faculty. Through her presentation at the HS service assembly and through her book, Holloway shared her experiences in Mali as a way to give voice to those who don’t have one, such as Monique. 

Holloway said she originally had no intention of writing a book. Rather, she went to Mali as a mission of the Peace Corps. Fluent in French and having already studied Environmental Science, she was excited to have an experience in Mali. There, Holloway met Monique.

Published in 2006, Holloway’s book details her two years in Mali and relates the remarkable story of a young midwife she met there.

Monique’s story is a touching one. She was the only midwife in her small Mali village. Holloway was deeply impressed because they were almost the same age, yet Monique seemed very wise in crucial health-related areas. She showed Holloway around, helping her learn their language. Eventually, the two became close friends, and Holloway asked Monique to come to America, what would be her first experience out of Mali. 

It became evident to Monique as soon as she arrived in the US that life there was very different from that in Mali. The US  had elevators, electricity, and friendly dogs. Typically, she told Holloway, in Mali, dogs were aggressive or quickly grew to be aggressive. 

After Monique’s adventurous trip to America, she went back to her home village.

A short time later, Holloway and her husband received word that Monique had died during childbirth. The two of them traveled back to attend her funeral, which led Holloway to reflect on her experience in Mali and prompted her to write a book. 

Holloway’s resulting work, Monique and the Mango Rain, captures readers of all demographics. She tells Monique’s story through beautiful imagery and cunning facts, educating readers about the desperate lives of voiceless individuals, the type Holloway encountered so often in Mali.

By describing and explaining the intersections of subjects such as waste treatment, gender equality, and good health/well being, Holloway encourages more to be done about these issues. 

For instance, over the course of two weeks in Mali, she describes, Holloway produced less waste than she did during her seven-hour plane ride back home. Her experience on that plane ride made her think far more in-depth about the waste the average American produces.  

She hopes now that people will want to stop wasting so much, she said. Holloway encourages us to “work alongside one another, for it’s our one world and it belongs to all of us.”

Service speaker Kris Holloway volunteered her time to an interview with journalism students after her on-stage presentations to HS students. Here, she fleshed out more stories from her Peace Corps days but also expanded on her passion for activism and advocacy around human rights, mindful consumerism, and ecology.       Photographer: Omar A.

Holloway left a huge impact on her listeners and many of her readers at ASD, those who connect with her story. She wants to continue to share the power of her own experiences and Monique’s story in hopes of making others talk about some of the world’s most pressing problems.


If you get the chance to read her book — available in the ASD high school library — you will be moved and impacted in many ways.

You might just go on your own adventure to Mali, or another developing nation, to make a difference in the world, produce less waste, and be inspired by Holloway’s journey.

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