Today, May 6, the paperback version of Tostan Founder Molly Melching’s biography, However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph, was released. This book, written by acclaimed journalist and writer Aimee Molloy, was first released on April 30, 2013 in hardcover as the debut title of HarperOne and the Skoll Foundation’s co-branded book series by Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneurs. With 6,400 hardcover copies sold to date, the paperback release of the book aims to extend the reach of Molly’s inspiring story.
First exploring her childhood in the United States, However Long the Night begins to build as it shares the story of Molly Melching’s arrival in Dakar, Senegal in 1974. Quickly adapting to her new cultural and linguistic surroundings, she fell in love with the Senegalese people and way of life, stating it was “a place where she felt people truly cared about other people in a way she hadn’t experienced before.” What was meant to be months turned into years, as she launched a movement to bring human rights education to thousands of communities in West and East Africa, transforming the lives of women and children.
Through Tostan, which she founded in 1991, Molly has championed a groundbreaking approach to education in over twenty African languages, working within the community to facilitate people themselves making major cultural changes. Over the years, her community-led social strategies have been implemented to address a wide range of communities’ most pressing needs, from increased education of women to enhanced healthcare to a significant reduction in female genital cutting—a deeply entrenched traditional practice. Her hard-earned success is a true testament to “what one woman can achieve by patience and cultural understanding…and by not being deterred,” said Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
The book has been placed on numerous book lists, including those by Bill and Melinda Gates, and has received many favorable reviews by thought leaders. According to Melinda Gates, “However Long the Night reinforced my own belief that the best solution to disease and poverty is already in developing communities around the world. The solution is people who live in these communities, and their drive to make the future better than the past.” Lisa See, a bestselling author, said of the book: “Melching’s incredible journey from Illinois to Africa, from graduate student to great humanitarian, is paralleled by the journey of the countless women touched by her work: a journey to understanding, empowerment and human dignity.” And Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US Secretary of State and a longtime Tostan supporter, stated, “Molly Melching saw a deeply disturbing but deeply entrenched practice and refused to accept that it couldn’t be stopped. Her relentless efforts are proof that commitment and partnership can drive transformational change.”
Molly’s personal story, as told in However Long the Night, illustrates that positive social transformation is possible when communities are empowered by holistic education and knowledge of basic human rights. In the book, Molly states that she and Tostan learned an important lesson, “in order for people to feel confident in their right to make changes, they had to understand that they had a choice and a voice.” This book builds awareness of the power of human rights and the potential people have to make incredible, life changing impact on those around them.
However Long the Night is now available in paperback and hardcover.