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There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey To Rescue Africa's Children

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  2,749 Ratings  ·  387 Reviews
"When Haregewoin Teferra's husband and twenty-three-year-old daughter died within a few years of each other, her middle-class life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was shattered. Bereft and with little to live for, Haregewoin became a recluse. Her self-imposed exile was interrupted when a priest delivered first one, then another, orphaned child into her care. To everyone's surpri ...more
Published (first published 2006)
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Feb 01, 2011 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, medical, ethiopia

Having completed the book, here are my thoughts. Everybody should read this book. When you say millions of AIDS orphans, it doesn't really mean anything. When you come to know a few, their thoughts, their experiences, their fears and dreams, the numbers take on a face and they mean something. It is much better to understand one individual in depth than millions without faces.

You fall in love with some of these children. Most parents wanted to adopt baby girls. Do you know who were wi
Sep 09, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dik
This is the book that is causing me to rethink my life and try to decide if I am living a meaningful life. Am I doing enough good or should I sell my possessions, move to Africa or India and dedicate my life to something more useful than having a socially conscious job and owning a home.

Haregewoin Teferra was a middle class woman in Ethiopia, a professional woman with an husband who was a teacher and two beautiful and beloved daughters. After her husband passes away she raises her daughters to a
Mar 05, 2008 Marci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: favoritebooks
This book really taught me a lot both intellectually and personally. It taught me that I haven't the first clue about poverty, the orphan crisis, about Africa and about AIDS. The author writes in a journalistic style about a current day Ethiopian woman who after the death of her husband and later her daughter decides to enter a life of hermitude. As she goes to say her good byes to a priest friend he asks her to take in a street girl and care for her. She reluctantly says yes. With in a few mont ...more
After reading Melissa Fay Greene's funny No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, I picked up this earlier book about the woman who runs the orphanage from which some of Green's children came. Somehow I missed it when it came out, despite its winning a slew of awards that year. It is a powerful book, and it took me a long time to finish it because I needed time to absorb its impact. The book is not maudlin nor manipulative, but its subject, AIDS orphans, is tragic.

Greene is an excellent writer,
Feb 23, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest I found a lot of the writing a bit too speculative - telling us about how children felt, when the author was not there, let alone in the mind of the child concerned. But that is only a minor quibble. This is an amazing story about an amazing Ethiopian woman - Haregewoin Teferra - who took lots of children orphaned by AIDS, into her home.

I very much like the way the author interspersed the story with theories about how AIDS may have come into being, and the fantastic politics of the
Aug 24, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgroup
I wasn't anticipating the emotional journey this book would take me on. I've been sad, angry, happy, bereft, indignant, heartbroken, despairing, hopeful, and just about every other emotion you can imagine while I've been reading it.
I'm so moved by the true-life heroine of this book, Haregewoin Teferra who turned her grief after losing her husband and a daughter into a mission to rescue as many of the thousands of AIDS orphans in Ethiopia as she could handle, and then some. The author doesn't pai
This is an eye-opening book about AIDS orphans in Ethiopia. Melissa Fay Greene particularly focuses on the efforts of one woman who cares for those orphans. Haregewoin Teferra was one of the few refuges for AIDS orphans in the earlier days of the pandemic. Greene's tale doesn't seek to make Haregewoin into a saint, but shows her in all her courage and also her limited ability to handle the incredible task she takes on. When the Western world begins to laud Haregewoin for her deeds, Greene also s ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Laurel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Much like Half the Sky, this was one of those books I often found myself wishing everyone would read. Briefly speaking, in There is No Me Without You, journalist Melissa Fay Greene explores the history of HIV/AIDS, the subsequent plight in Africa (more specifically, Ethiopia), and how one woman reached out and tried to bring about change. Insightful, educational and inspiring.
Eileen Souza
Jun 08, 2010 Eileen Souza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, adoption
This is one of the most profound, informative, and life-altering books that I have ever read. If I could give it six stars, I would.

I started reading this book because I’m a prospective adoptive parent, looking to adopt from Ethiopia. I could not have picked a better book to explain the history and reality of HIV as well as the impact on the children of Ethiopia.

This non-fiction work is a story told in two parts. The first aspect of the book covers the history of the development of HIV/AIDS, how
Justine Olawsky
I wish there were more options for the rating system. I "liked" this book in the sense that I am glad to have read it. I "liked" it in the sense that it was beautifully, achingly written in parts. I "liked" it because I think that I am a bit more completely, expansively human for having read it. On the other hand, the subject matter is heart-breaking, the narrator can, at times, be frustrating and intrusive, and the book is one I can never imagine turning to again with pleasure. But, it was cert ...more
I was sad to finish this book. If we ever do adopt from Ethiopia, which is a growing dream of mine:
1) I want to purchase a copy of this book for each child we adopt;
2) I want my husband to read this book;
3) I want to refer everyone who asks "why?" we would adopt to this book.

Greene's journalistic style weaves the life of a woman literally sucked into orphan rescue (Haregewoin Teferra's), statistical analysis, vignettes of the children's lives, global politics, Ethiopian history, causes/ developm
Sep 27, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethiopia, non-fiction
Only having time to read a few pages per day, this book took me a long time to finish. But as I read, I was constantly pulled closer. Closer to the stories of children becoming lost, and becoming found again. Closer to the story of a woman just like the rest of us who gave everything to save the few children she could. And closer to the big picture that is the global AIDS epidemic. Before long, I wasn't able to sit down and read without consuming 15-20 pages at a time.

Melissa Fay Greene pulls of
Sep 16, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerfully written, There is No Me Without You, presents solid research, incomprehensible statistics and the more powerful prose of personal narratives and stories out of Ethiopia giving a face and depth the the HIV/AIDS crisis.

I cannot adequately express how moving and powerful this story was for me. The HIV/AIDS crisis, the cause of orphans and widows are all completely overwhelming and more often than not leave me feeling powerless and hopeless. Greene presents these overwhelming factors alon
Feb 22, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a difficult time putting this book down. It is the story of an Ethiopian woman (Haregewoin), who is modestly comfortable (financially) for the first half of her life, experiences a great personal loss and ends up taking in an orphaned child. Six weeks later, Haregewoin takes in another orphan, then another, until she finds herself unable to say "no" to requests for help. An orphanage results, she struggles to make ends meet and her life is no longer her own. Despite this, Greene (the autho ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Beckbunch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You will feel changed after reading this book. I absolutely loved it. Greene is a wonderful writer and has the ability to express a point in one sentence that many writers would take pages to tackle.

The story she tells is such an important one--what happens to the millions of children orphaned by the AIDS crisis? For some of them, they come to call Haregewoin Taffera's compound home. As Greene says, "In a world without people try to be a person. And Haregewoin tried."

A beautiful book.
Dec 17, 2008 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Kay by: NY Times Book Review
This is one of the most important books I've read this year, maybe this decade. It is a true story of corruption and AIDS, not as a generality, but as a disease that can erase a country if not a continent unless our help gets to whom it needs to go. It is a story of how each individual person, doing what is within their ability to do, can make a change. This is the book our young people need to be reading.....not the fantasy world of Twilight.
Jan 26, 2015 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Confession- I thought I was buying a different book when I did my one click ordering; however, I am so grateful that this book came into my life. As someone who has studied public health, you would think that the impact of the AIDS epidemic wouldn't shock me, but nothing can prepare you for these stories of heartache and loss. It's not an easy book to read, but the lives of these remarkable humans are powerful, inspirational, and resilient.
Nov 30, 2007 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-read
sad but inspirational story of a woman who, despite having next to nothing, ran an orphanage in ethiopia. greene has a knack for telling stories of people who beat the odds (she wrote Praying for Sheetrock).
Jul 21, 2009 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
An inspiring book, and one I would have finished if I hadn't left for vacation when I was on page 145.
Dec 20, 2009 Esther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This is a powerful book about the Aids epidemic in Ethiopia and all the children who have become orphans because of this disease.
A moving, heartlifting account of how an Ethiopian woman handles AIDS, orphans and adoption.
Peggy Hess Greenawalt
Although this book was written in 2006, this true story is even more poignant as the reader reflects on what was happening in Africa in the late 90s and early 2000. We have made progress, but such a terrible loss for way too long in the country of Ethiopia, which is the center of this story. This book interspersed with high interest tales of the orphans and facts about HIV and drugs, left me dreaming at night about the terrible plight. This is not a book quickly read or one that makes you joyful ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First things first: this was instantly and easily one of the best books I've ever read.

Usually I read a book for entertainment, to pass the time, or even occasionally for intellectual stimulation or to learn something. This one's different. This book has changed me. I can never think of the world or the people in it the same way again, because of this book.

As others have mentioned doing in their reviews, in reading this book I began asking myself, "Am I the kind of person I want to be? Am I tru
Natalie Greaves
Feb 12, 2017 Natalie Greaves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend recommended this book after I'd become a new mother. It's amazing where a discussion on breastfeeding will lead to. There's a ton of historical information, which can bog things down a little but it was such a touching, inspiring and emotional read. Highly recommended.
Sue Trippas
Feb 17, 2017 Sue Trippas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an emotional, informative read with statistics combined with characters demonstrating humanity in extremely challenging conditions.
Jan 08, 2017 Momo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether you have adopted kids or never have had kids, this is a fabulous book explaining the adoption world and the world of family in Ethiopia
Feb 28, 2013 Liralen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I seem to be tearing through the adoption section of the library, which is leading to a lot of nervous side-eye on the part of my s.o.

But this is less a book about adoption than it is about the terrible impact of AIDS in Africa and the sloooow struggle, usually by individuals rather than organisations, to care for those either left behind or on the road to an AIDS-related death themselves. Greene provides a lot of HIV/AIDS history here, and if sometimes it felt like more detail t
Book Concierge
Audio book narrated by Julie Fain Lawrence

Consumed by grief at the loss of her husband and oldest daughter, Haregewoin Teferra, a middle-class Ethiopian woman, finds solace in attending daily church services – regardless of denomination – and becomes known to other regular church-goers as a very devout woman. True relief eludes her, however, and she decides to ask the local Orthodox priest to be taken into seclusion, so she can spend her days living in a simple hut near the graves of those she l
Feb 27, 2011 Chinook rated it really liked it
When I was young, I thought people died of Ethiopia. I thought it was a disease, rather than a place. Since then, I'm ashamed to say, my knowledge hasn't grown too far beyond being able to find it on a map. This book has changed that. It taught me about Ethiopian history, as well as a great deal about the history of HIV/AIDS and ARVs.

There Is No Me Without You will break your heart into pieces. The end of the book, with a small number of orphans beginning ARV treatments and the lives of others i
Kathleen Hagen
There is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Africa’s Children, by Melissa Fay Greene, Narrated by Julie Fain Lawrence, Produced by Highbridge Company, Downloaded from

There Is No Me Without You is the story of Haregewoin Tefarra, a middle-aged Ethiopian woman of modest means whose home has become a refuge for hundreds
of children orphaned by AIDS. It is a story as much about the power of the bond between children and parents as about the epidemic that every year leaves
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Madison Mega-Mara...: there's no me without you 1 3 May 16, 2012 06:49PM  
Great African Reads: Mar/Apr: Ethiopia | "There is No Me Without You" 35 51 Sep 29, 2011 03:32AM  
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Melissa Greene has been a contributor to NPR, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, LIFE, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Readers Digest, Ms., The Wilson Quarterly, Redbook, and She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Don Samuel, a criminal defense attorney. They have been married for 28 years and are the parents of nine children: Molly, Seth, Lee, Lily, Jesse (adopted ...more
More about Melissa Fay Greene...

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“So how does it happen that -- while most people instinctively try to save themselves and their families from a catastrophe -- a few slow down, look back, and suddenly reach out to strangers? Instead of fleeing in the opposite direction, a few wade into the rising waters to try to yank the drowning onto higher land. ... In the coming months and years, I would learn that -- just as there is no blood test to identify who will jump into the fray -- there is no simple biographical arc either. No resume can predict why this man or woman, at a safe remove from crisis, suddenly announces, "This is my fight.” 3 likes
“In the Pirkei Avoth, the Jewish ethical compendium from the third century, it is written, "In a place with no people, try to be a person" (2:6).” 0 likes
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