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Great African Reads: Authors > Eve Brown-Waite: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hello everyone,

My apologies I have been delayed setting this up. Eve Brown-Waite, a new member with a newly published memoir, is available to answer questions and discuss her book, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life. I've just read it and i loved it. She has a fantastic sense of humor. The jacket describes it as "laugh out loud funny." i was skeptical of that but was proven wrong as i constantly surprised myself with little giggles.

Her memoir begins with her Peace Corps adventure of falling in love with her recruiter and her time spent in Ecuador as a volunteer. After returning home from Ecuador she married the recruiter. He accepted a job that sent him to Uganda, to Arua in the West Nile region, where Americans typically were not sent to live and work.

In addition to her own personal experiences (finding work, shopping in the market, getting horrendously ill, trying to figure out if she was really pregnant...), there is a lot of discussion this book can generate regarding development and international aid in countries like Uganda. So please join us in discussion and if you haven't already read the book, hopefully you'll feel inspired to get your hands on it!

Perhaps I'll ask the first (simple) question to get things started...Eve(can we call you Eve?), have you maintained contact with friends in Arua? Have you been back? have things changed? Anything surprising or remarkable?

Thank you on behalf of all the members of Great African Reads!

message 2: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments Thank you Marieke and of course you can call me Eve! We have been able to maintain SOME contact with friends in Uganda, but not much. I'm sure it's changed drastically since we were there in '93 - 96. But the only way to communicate then was through very slow letters and radio contact. So we've kept in touch with folks primarily through those means and sending messages via CARE.

For readers of the book, you'll be happy to know that we are in fairly frequent contact with Adam and we've been able to send things back and forth a few times to Regina and Steven and their family. Sissy went off to Kampala and no one seems to know her whereabouts.

I am hoping for a trip back to Uganda in the not too distant future. I have a fantasy that the book will get made into a movie (yes, there's been interest) and I'll insist the movie get made on location in Arua (no, I'll have no say over this, but it's a fantasy after all). I know I'll be heartbroken because it won't be the same and I'll never find all of our old friends - and I also know a bunch have died. But that's how life is in most of the world. A lot of heartbreak mixed in with all the good times.

I know that I will be shocked by how different Arua must be now. The road between Kampala and Arua - which used to take us 8 jarring hours - is now completely paved and you can make the trip in about 4 hours. John Hatchard (in the book) recently told me that the house we lived in during our last two years in Arua is now a hotel (trust me, it wasn't THAT big). Probably more like a B&B and I have fantasies of staying there when we go back for a visit.

When we go back, I'm sure it will all be surprising, all be remarkable, all be heartbreaking, and all be wonderful. A lot like life in Africa, no?

message 3: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments I first went to Kenya in 1998, and the biggest change by far that I've noticed since then has been the use of cell phones. Everybody seems to have them and life has really changed through that. I think it would be so lovely if you can stay in your old house again.

I was wondering how you developed the idea for structuring the book, how much time to devote to your first Peace Corps assignment and how much to Arua, and how much to conclusion? I know that's a big question.

message 4: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments I know when we go back to Africa and find everyone using cell phones - especially in Arua where land lines JUST barely got there before we left (horribly unreliable land lines, I might add) - it's going to seem so odd.

As for how I structured the book, Andrea ... well, that's a good question. And really, it came about pretty organically. Keep in mind that it took me about a dozen years to write the book (not kidding). And at first it was only about my time in Uganda. But then as I worked on it and got input from my agent and editor, the book expanded to include not only my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, but also how I met my husband. So the book sort of naturally got divided into those two parts - meeting my husband and going to Ecuador because that was so intrinsically linked for me and then the time we spent in Uganda. But as I expanded the story and really dug into it further, I came to realize that there was a real change for me and in me from the first year I was in Uganda to when I returned the second year with our daughter. And so that naturally became the third section of the book.

message 5: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) | 30 comments I can't wait to read your book. I unfortunately live in a "bookstoreless" town. I got a gift card for my birthday, so I think I will send away for it today. Keep the discussion going until I can participate!

message 6: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments Thanks Lynne. I hope you will read and enjoy the book. Feel free to contact me via my website - - after you've read the book, if you'd like.

message 7: by LeAnne (new)

LeAnne (leannehardy) I was glad to find it at the library, but there's a waiting list. I have lived in both Latin America (Brazil) and Africa (Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa) so I am looking forward to it too. Eve, how has your daughter done back in North America, or was she too young to be significantly impacted by living overseas? My daughters (29 and 31) are still wrestling with the grief of what they lost moving back here.

message 8: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments I've heard a lot of libraries have my book on a waiting list! I guess that's a good sign. I hope it encourages those who can afford it to purchase the book. I know, it sounds so selfish - BUT 10% of all the book royalties go to CARE for their malaria prevention work in sub-Saharan Africa. So the more we sell, the more money goes to CARE!

My daughter's transition back to the states was not an easy one. She was five by the time we returned and had lived her entire life up to that point overseas. (I don't want to give away too much, but we took another posting after we left Uganda.) It was a very difficult few years. For my husband and I, the states were "home." But not for our daughter, who had lived her whole life overseas.

She's a perfectly well-adjusted American teenager now (well, as well-adjusted as any American teen, I should say.) and when we talk about going back overseas, she says she'll agree to it ONLY if we go to Paris!

message 9: by LeAnne (new)

LeAnne (leannehardy) I hear you on the contribution to CARE. I'm glad your daughter is adjusting. I look forward to reading your adventures. You might want to look at The Third Culture Kid Experience. Reading it, my girls figured out for the first time why they are the way they are and that they aren't alone.

message 10: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments Thanks LeAnne, I'll have to check it out. Frankly, after all these years back in the States, I'm afraid my kids are being too Americanized. Or at least losing - or forgetting - all the wonderful things about their earliest years overseas.

message 11: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Our kids have grown up in a large college town in Michigan, and generally think of it as "home," while my husband and I have always seen this place as transient, a place we work rather than home. Now, as we consider the timing and organization of moving back "home" to Kenya (actually my husband's original home), we've found that each of the four kids has different points of view.One is eager to go, one is willing, if unsure, one is "grown-up" and sees it as our show, not his, and the fourth is "American" and wants nothing more than to go off to college and leave the African adventure to us. But I don't really think that kids who have lived abroad ever forget what they learned from that, that there is more than one "normal" way of looking at things, and that different can be good.

message 12: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) | 30 comments Eve wrote: "Thanks Lynne. I hope you will read and enjoy the book. Feel free to contact me via my website - - after you've read the book, if you'd like."

I finally ordered your book today. I almost ordered a used copy but then I thought about the proceeds going to CARE and bought a new one. Yeah for the info on GoodReads. I can't wait to get started.

message 13: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments Thank you, Lynne! On behalf of myself, CARE and writers everywhere - THANK YOU FOR BUYING THE BOOK! I hope you will feel it's money well spent.

Andrea, it sounds like you will have quite a fascinating story of your own when/if you go back to Kenya with the children. I'd love to hear about it! Our dear, dear friends, the Marums (they are in the book), raised their two children in Africa (Uganda, Malawi and Kenya) from the time the twins were 8. They are adults now and it's certainly very interesting to get their perspectives of where "home" actually is. But they are certainly fascinating people.

message 14: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Thanks, Eve. And my kids now have a question for you, on behalf of their cats. I told them you took your cats to Uganda, and they want to know how you kept them from heading for the hills the minute they got out of the carrier. Did you keep them confined for awhile? How long? And also, they want to know if you had a litter box for the cats in Uganda. Not very writerly questions:)

message 15: by Eve (new)

Eve Brown-waite (evebrown-waite) | 7 comments Ah ... the cats! Perhaps not a 'writerly' topic, but one near and dear to my heart. Okay, first of all, do your kids know that one of the cats was blind? So there was little chance of her heading for the hills in any case! As I recall, we tried to keep both cats confined to the house at first, but they eventually made their way outside. Keep in mind, that both houses we lived in in Arua, had big, fenced in yards (we called them "compounds") and plenty of people around most days. We had our 'askaris" (or guards), James and his entire family who lived in the "boy's quarters" out back in our first house, and then later on, there was Regina and Cissie and everyone else who was always around. All of these wonderful people who looked out for us, also looked out for our cats.

No doubt they all thought it odd that the mzungus kept cats as pets, much less that they would bring them all the way to Africa. BUT, they would do whatever they could to make sure that no harm came to our cats because they knew that the cats were special to us. Remember the part in the book when Beijing died and Mzee John found me crying over her grave? I thought he'd think I was a crazy white woman, crying over a dead cat when in Uganda mothers regularly bury their children!

But instead he said, "Madam, I think you loved that cat. And so you are sad. In Uganda, we understand sadness."

Litter boxes in Uganda? I'm pretty sure we brought one from the states. And we used sand for litter.

message 16: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Oh, yes I remember that scene from the book. It was very sweet. Actually, my Kenyan mother-in-law was quite cat crazy and always had several pet cats in and out of the house and so my husband and his siblings are used to the idea of pet cats. I hadn't told them that one of the cats was blind, as I thought that might raise their expectations that our two healthy, sighted cats would definitely be making the move.

message 17: by LeAnne (new)

LeAnne (leannehardy) Dear Eve,

Although the copy I read came from the library, before I finished the Author's Note, I knew I would be buying copies for my daughters for Christmas and recommending it to all my international friends, including some HR people I hope will use it in pre-field training. So CARE hasn't missed too much in sales. I identified with everything from making yogurt in a sleeping bag to losing it in the supermarket. (For me it was the coffee aisle. I don't even drink coffee, but my husband does. While we were gone, they had come up with all these different grinds and roasts. All I wanted was coffee so my husband would be happy!)

I shared your frustration at the AIDS education that didn't happen because walking was beneath the dignity of the person responsible. Also the skimming at the bank. That made me wonder, how long did your husband's loan project last? or were the funds simply consumed internally when he was gone?

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