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Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Conversation with Molly Melching, Humanitarian Extraordinaire and One of the Most Powerful Women in Women's Rights

Last week, I had the pleasure of reviewing However Long the Night, one of the best books I've read. (read my review) Author Aimee Molloy tells the story of Molly Melching and her journey to help millions of African women and girls triumph.  Her story, and that of the men and women of Senegal, was touching and inspiring to me. So when Bridget Haines, publicist at HarperCollins contacted me to see if I wanted to speak with Molly since she would be in Canada this week, I was ecstatic!


Molly called me and we had a friendly conversation that flew by too quickly because talking to this lovely woman was like talking to a friend. After having read about her, I knew she would be personable, but her kindness and affability still pleased me to no end. Molly met with political leaders this week, but she still took the time to call and speak to me. I was honored.


I want to share with you the highlights of my conversation with Molly because I think her work, the Tostan organization she has founded, and the message in However Long the Night can benefit all communities, whether affluent or poor.

Please help me in welcoming Molly to Library of Clean Reads!

I ask Molly how her book came to be, and what prompted her to put her story in book form. 

Over the years, Molly says, people have told her she should write her story, (yes!) but she leads a busy life and knows her skills are with people, developing programs, and not with a pen. She chuckles as she states this. She was then interviewed by the Skoll Foundation, which has collaborated with HarperOne to launch a series of books featuring social entrepreneurs. She was chosen for their debut title. After reading the book, I can see why.

What about the author Aimee Molloy? Did Molly choose her to write her story?

Molly was given a list of authors to interview. Aimee Molloy was on that list and made the proactive decision to call Molly and tell her that she really wanted to write her story. After speaking with Aimee, Molly says she followed her gut instinct. She felt Aimee understood what she wanted the book to convey. I tell Molly she made the right choice because the book was very well-written and reads like a novel. To learn more about Aimee Molloy's books, visit aimeemolloy.com.

Aimee describes Molly as being fearless in the book. So I ask Molly if she was always that way.

"I'm fearless about the things I'm passionate about," says Molly. What a powerful statement! She then relates that she has never felt afraid in Senegal, where the culture embraces peace both in their greetings and way of life. Her love of the country and its people really comes through as she speaks with me. I don't hold back from telling her how much their stories touched me and moved me to tears. Molly gracefully accepts my praise and expresses her own joy that the book helped to bring to the forefront the selfless acts of the villagers who worked diligently to bring about change.

Our conversation steers toward parenting--Molly is currently working on this module as one of the developmental programs--and we speak about the importance of educating parents and developing good parenting skills. (This turns out to be one of the best parts of our conversation!)

In the book, Molly reveals a traumatic event that happened to her in university. When Molly spoke to her parents about it, they were supportive. When I read this experience I appreciated that she included it in her story because the message is that dialogue and open communication are important, especially in families, and even vital to healing. After all, this is what made her approach to bringing about change successful. I ask Molly if this was her intention by including this personal part of her life in the book.

Molly was initially unsure if she should include it, but was happy she did because, although the book was only released two months ago, women have already expressed to her how this part of her story resonated with them and have moved them to talk about their own emotionally difficult experiences.


Throughout our conversation, Molly modestly speaks of Tostan, the non-profit organization she founded in 1991, an organization that has won prestigious awards and named as one of the Top 100 Best NGOs by The Global Journal. She easily relates to me how grateful she is of the Canadian support she has received, how some groups even adopted whole villages. I ask her how one could contribute to this important work that is changing lives for the better.  

Molly directs me to tostan.org and tostancanada.org, where we can learn more about this organization that uses the values of dignity and respect to bring about generational changes such as abandoning female genital cutting and child marriages. Their community-led developmental programs are human-rights based and holistic and sustainable. Your donations are welcome and appreciated.

Also, Molly is donating the proceeds of her book sales of However Long the Night to Tostan. So I strongly encourage you to buy the book. It's such a worthwhile and inspiring read!

Buy a copy at:

Here is the book trailer which includes Molly talking about her work:



Finally, I want to thank Molly for sharing her time, her passion, and her work with me. Our conversation of shared thoughts and values made me think of these truthful words: "There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving." (Acts 20:35) May God bless her generous spirit.

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