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New User
Levanah
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-03-2007
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Handling Francios

Hi Kris,

One of the things that impacted me emotionally while reading the book related to dealing with Francios (F from now on). He touched me in very negative ways, and I was always surprised with how gracious you were able to remain when interacting with him. How were you able to do that? I don't think I could have treated someone so selfish and mean to others in the kind of way you did. Can you talk about this some more?

I'd also be very interested in hearing how others who are reading/participating on this website felt and thought regarding Francios.

I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts.

Levanah
New User
RosieM
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎05-06-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

I was quite impressed with Kris's handling of Francios. She was very sensitive to the cultural norms that dictated giving him respect, no matter how incredibly undeserved. If she had handled things differently, Francios might have found a way not only to hurt Monique but to interfere with all that she'd worked for and thus all whom she helped. Reading the book, I was appalled at this horrible man's audacity and meaness. By maintaining that undeserved show of respect for/not lashing out at Francios, Kris may have helped to keep him from sabatoging the lives of his and Monique's children as well as the future of the clinic. He seemed the sort who would do this out of spite even after Monique's death. I couldn't bring myself to actually feel sorry for him but it must have been difficult in that society to have your wife so highly respected when you are such a pathetic human being....
Author
KrisH
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎04-01-2007
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Re: Handling Francois

Hi Levanah,

I'm not sure I was always patient with Francois. It was certainly a struggle for me. I guess I took my cues from Monique, who rarely lost her temper and went about her daily interactions with an extraordinary amount of grace and humor. Monique's kids belonged to her husband's family, she was living in her husband's village, she was (in the early years) reliant on her husband's father to give her some small portion of her salary. That's a significant amount of dependency and so any move that Monique made had to be carefully considered. Her children and her livelihood were at stake. I was aware of this, and knew there were layers of culture and family ties and exchanges made that I could not know, and thus kept my righteous anger in check. I became laser-focused on ways that I could support Monique, just as I would any friend.

Would you have done differently?

Kris


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KrisH
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎04-01-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

Hi Rosie,

I agree. It would have been hard to be married to Monique. She was powerful and popular. I think there was a large degree of jealousy in Francois that he could not understand or process (no family therapists in rural Mali).

Kris


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New User
Levanah
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-03-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

Hi Kris,

I understand what you are saying. Would I have done differently? I guess I would hope that I would not do differently than you because it was the correct thing to do under those circumstances. I just don't know if I would have had the discipline that you did throughout your time. I guess the repercussions are really bad enough to motivate a hard behavior - go against your feelings!

I don't remember from the book because I read it a while ago, but did you and Monique ever have a frank conversation of the need to placate Francois or the need to not offend him?

Levanah
Author
KrisH
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎04-01-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

Hi Levanah,

No, we didn't. She usually let off quite a bit of steam about the relationship, but never said to me "be careful, tread lightly, go slowly". She was pretty fearless. I learned from her example in how she dealt with other women and their relationships.

And, I must say, that I didn't have all that much contact with Francois. He ate in the compound with us most nights, but did not engage in much conversation, was not involved in many village projects, or in the village leadership structure, and did not seek me or John out in any way. He was a bit of a shadow.

Kris


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New User
ktholkes
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎05-23-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

It seems to me that every good story needs an antagonist and "le gars" was that. Yes, he had a bleak picture painted of him in the story, but there were glimmers that there was a story behind him. He was selfish no doubt, but we are given a ray of hope when he talks to kris and john, shows them his garden and professes to love Monique...how are we to judge the "love"? We can not.

What amazes me is Kris' gentle strength and constant governor on her tongue...the peace corps really picked an ally in Kris...I can not imagine being so steady and sure of the methods of bringing change...with regards to her salary, the female cutting, the birth control...all of it handled delicately and eventually fruitful. I pray that in our lifetime we see all FGC ended...Monique was truly a feminist, but Kris was also, and in Monique's untimely and ironic death, more change may come about than had she lived and spent all her energy. It is amazing to me how things get so big when a life has ended...posthumous change? Where's the new term. Martin Luther King, Pilates, Mother Theresa, Ghandi...they all made radical change with a death...to be sure, their lives were valuable, but in dying, they moved others to greater action.
Author
KrisH
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎04-01-2007
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Re: Handling Francios

Well put! There is something about the permanence of death that provides something to push against. A physical wall to rally behind, a spot to mark our way, an enclosed space in which to gather energy. I do so wish that Monique was here today, but in her absence, we must carry on her work the best we can.


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