Mimi’s Village: And How Basic Health Care Transformed It by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
When Mimi and her little sister Nakkissi go to fetch the family’s water from the stream one hot day, Mimi does something she knows she shouldn’t: she realizes that tired Nakkissi can’t walk all the way home without a drink, so she gives her “two handfuls of brownish water” from the stream – even knowing that the water must first be boiled before drinking. That evening, Nakkissi falls seriously ill with a sickness that too many village children don’t survive. Armed with a machete, hoe, and sticks to ward off any wild animals, the whole family walks in the middle of the night to the next village in search of help.
With simple, clean care at the health clinic, Nakkissi recovers quickly. Nurse Tela convinces the family to stay another night because the next day is vaccination day. Mimi watches and learns as Nurse Tela tends to pregnant women, babies, and many children more ill than Nakkissi. Inspired by what she sees, when they return home, Mimi shares her “big dream” with her father, who discusses it with the village elders … and three months later, that dream becomes a most welcome, necessary reality. What might have been a family tragedy proves to be healthy salvation for Mimi’s whole community.
Part of Canada’s Kids Can Press‘ compelling, informative, entertaining CitizenKid series – “books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens” – Mimi’s Village is “based on a blend of real stories.” Author Katie Smith Milway (who also wrote CitizenKid’s uplifting, based-on-real-life The Good Garden) definitely inspires readers with a good story … and then fortifies her audience with informative context and opportunities to take action. She shares the experiences of real-life nurse Felina Maiya of Zambia, who has thus far brought saving treatment and hygienic prevention techniques to 61 households since 2006. Milway also provides the ‘why’ of the importance of simple health care (diarrhea causes one in five deaths; malaria kills a child in sub-Saharan Africa every 45 sections), and how readers can get involved (a 7-year-old Canadian boy raised the funding to build a well in Uganda!) and new ways to create change (an African superstar performs concerts that urge his fans to use bed nets to prevent malaria).
In this season of privileged plenty for so many of us lucky readers, resources like CitizenKid titles are priceless. Invest in a few (or all!) and encourage your kiddies to go global: with the help of CitizenKid, teach them now that actions speak louder than words.
Readers: Children, Middle Grade