When you buy this book and read it you do not get one story. There are more stories in this book about Julia Samuël, a former presenter at a Dutch broadcasting company.
Let me try to unravel the different stories or layers in this book:
a. Julia is diagnosed with breastcancer, we follow her journey through different hospitals, her moods and her strength, her willpower to continue and her trust in her own intuition.
b. Africa is a place of healing, especially living among the poorest of the poor. Among them Julia feels at home and she prefers to be with them.
c. travelling through Africa on her own or with David Robertson (Drive Against Malaria) and filming his one-man-fight-against-malaria.
d. Julia makes herself part of the Drive Against Malaria, setting up support in The Netherlands, handing out malarianets in Africa and raising awareneness in The Netherlands.
Each strand expressess her struggle to surivive and her wish that others, in different circumstances survive as well. In a time that diseases like HIV/Aids and Ebola get all due attention it is very good she pays attention to that other killer-disease, that gets far less attention. At the end of the book she gives information on malaria. On the different kinds of malaria the text is a bit mixed up. On the prevalence she writes that plasmodium falciparum (malaria tropica) is first and third in prevelance!? I assume it must be third place and not first place. And this malaria tropica really is a killer, many years ago I just survived a bout of this malaria tropica.
At times she makes life in Africa more less developed as it really was and is. There were already in those days tarmac-roads, petrol stations and public transport.
On the road from Njamena to Darfur she meets tribes that have never seen whites before (really?).
In her thoughts she is very negative about aid-organizations, she calls female leaders of these organizations ‘witches’, but in those early yeras of her own aidwork she writes about travelling and travelling and hardly about the aidwork she is doing. Travelling from one country to the other may well be exicting, but hardly effective in the battle against malaria. Near the end of her book she seems to focus more on distributing nets in Cameroon and Congo. She writes that the impact was enormous, but I do not read any more about this impact. Has there been a general decline in malaria-cases?
I wonder what happened with her early companion David Robertson, for on his website the latest newsitem dates from June 2009. The Dutch website is very much up-to-date. The focus seems to be presently on Cameroon.
The message Julia wants to get across is: what ever happens, never give up, there is always a solution.
Julia Samuël / Elise G. Lengkeek – Niemand weet waar ik ben – Amsterdam 2009 – 253 pages