It has been a long time since I have been so moved by a book. Aimee Molloy’s However Long the Night is a powerful biography focusing on the tireless efforts of Molly Melching who has worked for decades in Senegal to educate and improve the lives of the women and children of villages across the nation.
Melching originally traveled to Senegal as part of a graduate program study abroad, and was looking forward to learning about the culture and people. What she hadn’t planned on was the cancellation of the program. After convincing the university to allow her to study, Melching couldn’t help but fall in love with all that Senegal offered. Rather than returning home, however, Melching extends her stay and secures a position as a Peace Corps employee. She starts a school to teach the local children, focusing on them reading stories that reflect their own culture and language, rather than stories of European children who share little with their Senegalese peers. This venture quickly leads to another and before Melching knows it, she has embedded herself into the Senegal culture, learned the language, and established an NGO named Tostan to help educate the women and children of the nation. While she set out to improve the quality of life, it becomes apparent that one issue needs attention – that of FGC (female genital cutting). Remarkably, after much effort, and devoted educational efforts Melching and the women of the villages begin to notice a change in the FGC tradition. The women feel empowered, and slowly begin to convince others that a change is needed.
This powerful book is inspiring, engaging, and insightful. I read it in one sitting, fascinated that I had gone so long knowing so little about Melching and the FGC crisis in Senegal. I have begun to recommend this book to all of my friends and love the discussions that come about because of it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – it has been a long time since I have been so touched and inspired by a book – Molloy’s voice and Melching’s devotion make this a powerful story.