Erdman, Sarah*: Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village (2003)
* RPCV Côte d’Ivoire (1998-2000)
Our discussion took place: March 2014. Participating in our discussion was Sarah Erdman, the book’s author, via Skype.
Review: © Booklist: Erdman spent two years as a Peace Corps worker in the small town of Nambonkaha, Ivory Coast, at the end of the last decade. Erdman, who acted as a health-care worker and instructor, is surprised to find herself called upon to help women in labor, surrounded by curious children who want to learn to read, and honored with gifts from the chief. She also faces the challenge of trying to meld medical knowledge with traditional sorcery, as the village denizens believe most illness and misfortune is caused by witchcraft rather than infection. This is particular dangerous in regards to AIDS, which arrives in the village in the form of a young widow and her son. With the help of several of the town’s residents, including Sidibe, the only nurse in the town, Erdman begins teaching classes and sets up a baby-weighing station in the market. With graceful, thoughtful prose, Erdman ponders the problems the village faces and describes in vivid detail the many people she met there.