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African Rice Heart: A Young Woman’s Journal of Radical Service by Emily Star Wilkens


Radical? Definitely. In this thought-provoking true story, young Emily, 22


years old, goes to the Republic of Chad, one of the poorest countries in the poverty-stricken African continent. For six months, she assists in a hospital that often turns families away if they cannot pay, and lives with a Chadian family of 20 people, mostly children. (According to Wikipedia, over 47 per- cent of the population of Chad is under the age of 15.) Emily learns that for these people, the struggle to survive consumes their


lives. For example, just the process of harvesting rice and preparing it to eat takes women the whole day. Polygamy is common. And unlike the States, there is no protection in the village of Bere from the more unpleasant sides of life—urine in the shower room, persistent body odor, and too many people, too close, all the time. “But in some ways, the very things that make me so uncomfortable also


bring me so much comfort,” Emily writes in her journal, as the country and the people begin to grow on her. “Here in Africa, being skinny means you’re unloved, and conversely, if you carry weight, it is because someone loves you and spends money to put food in your belly.” Quite simply and in a factual, unsentimental manner, Emily tells the story


174 SPOKANE CDA • July - August • 2011


Emily is a 2009 graduate of Walla Walla University. She lives in Spokane.


Justice Forbidden by Ana Parker Goodwin


It has to be every therapist’s nightmare: Being accused of


ethics violations. Specifically, planting false memories of sexual abuse in a client’s vulnerable mind. The insurance company wants to settle—but Dr. Faythe Bradington knows she didn’t do it. If she settles she will look guilty. If convicted she’ll lose her license and her practice. And she’s not about to go down without a fight. Who is setting her up? Who murdered her cleaning lady?


Who is following her around town, once running her off the road? Is someone trying to kill her? Why? In this intriguing murder mystery, we learn about memories,


of how she was brought face-to-face with some of the toughest ethical issues that exist in the big sky country of Chad. When a Muslim man brings in his sick daughter, who needs a


by Holly Chase Williams


blood transfusion, Emily is aghast when he refuses to donate. “I don’t want to,” he says repeatedly, and takes his daughter home, where she could die. The French doctor on call lets him. Emily is appalled, but understands that there are more sides


to the story than might be obvious to Western eyes. Another problem is that many people scam to get free care at the hospital. Still, she argues, shouldn’t the hospital make sure the children are treated, no matter what? Later on, hundreds of victims of violence stream into the hos-


pital one bloody day and night; some seriously injured, includ- ing pregnant women who have taken axe blows to the head. Some are dead. The conflict was triggered by a Muslim man who tried to lead his cow to water and the Nanjere man whose crops he trampled. Emily understands that both groups need to live, and that both felt their livelihoods and families were endangered by the other. But


the tragedy was senselessly compounded when the


Nanjere man’s relatives avenged him, and the other side retali- ated, leading to a bloodbath. More than 200 ethnic groups are confined together in Chad, a country thoughtlessly carved out of the heart of Africa—sometimes called the dark heart—by Western powers. As heard on public radio, this is an important and touching


read for every American. Published by Pacific Press, paperback, $11.99


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