A memoir about the author’s efforts to help a struggling hospital in Africa.
Gorman’s debut recounts her journey to the struggling African country of Chad to help a maternity ward, as well as the events leading up to and following her trip. The author was living a comfortable life in Wales as a neonatal nurse when she was moved to action after watching a BBC program that showed how young mothers in Chad frequently died for want of simple medicines such as magnesium sulfate and antibiotics. Her initial plan to get her union to contribute some money for medicine quickly turned into a larger, grass-roots effort, which eventually led Gorman to travel to Chad with three other volunteers and a BBC film crew. The author effectively describes her impressions of the struggling African nation (“Occasionally we would see some areas with greenery and pools of stagnant water near the roadside”). She also recounts what they saw in the hospital maternity ward—including hopeful stories that show how the medicine they brought saved lives and grimmer stories about patients they were unable to help. The book includes traveloguelike stories about meals and places they visited, as well as a description of the local hospital’s medical practices and the author’s basic training for midwives. Gorman also provides many details about the journey and its daily events, and some may seem extraneous to the overall story; there are also times when the book becomes repetitive, although on at least one occasion, the author notes this (“If these words sound familiar, it is because I know that I have already described them in an earlier chapter”). In many ways, Gorman’s down-to-earth nature makes the book feel like a long letter from a close friend. She shows an appealing willingness to share humorous personal details, such as her fear of African insects and an incident in which she accidentally left a package of her underwear among supplies being donated to the hospital.
A plain but honest memoir and an inspiring story of how one person can make a profound difference.