Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance-book review

A chance meeting between Francis, an adolescent with big dreams, and Tom Johnson, Vietnam veteran and career pilot, changed the youth’s life forever in ways he had only dreamed of. Although he and Tom spent few years physically together, they never grew apart in friendship and love .

Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance

is a memoir told by Francis Mandewah. But it is more than one man’s story; it is the account of two men’s lives which woven together created an adventure bigger than either one of them alone.

a chance meeting-Goodwill

A chance meeting between Francis, an adolescent with big dreams, and Tom Johnson, Vietnam veteran and career pilot, changed the youth’s life forever in ways he had only dreamed of. Although he and Tom spent few years physically together, they never grew apart in friendship and love .

“(I was) a poor boy who had known so much hardship. I was introduced to these men in an area where no other Africans were allowed. I was being treated with dignity and respect beyond anything I’d ever experienced before.

I felt a power greater than myself sweep over me. I knew that only God could be making all of this happen. This was supernatural, a genuine miracle. Surely God placed me on that corner at that time in the afternoon, selling my oranges so that Tom and I could meet.

At that very moment,  I truly felt the presence of Jesus. My life was changing.”

Francis, from his memoir

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is the country on the west coast of Africa made famous by the movie “BLOOD DIAMOND” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for five Academy Awards. That movie brought attention to a rebel war in West Africa in which “blood” diamonds, also known as “conflict” diamonds, were used to finance warlords and their activities.

But years before this war began, pilots like Tom were hired to fly diamonds out of the country, to be traded in London. The country was stable but the leadership corrupt. The diamond trade was not used to support the people of Sierra Leone; most lived in poverty as subsistence farmers. on rural farms.

Photo by Noureddine Belfethi on Pexels.com of the Sahara Desert

Leaving Africa-Adventure

With Tom’s financial sponsorship, Francis attended a Catholic school in Africa, eventually leaving his family in an isolated village in Sierra Leone to fulfill his dream of an education and a job in the United States. Along the way Francis had many harrowing experiences, including crossing the Sahara Desert where he almost died. His adventures and challenges continued in Italy and Greece, until he finally reached the United States.

“Tom’s friendship meant more than financial security. I had joined his family. Without Tom, a fatherless boy like me would have had to live out my days, impoverished and miserable in Sierra Leone, here was God sending me a brother, father, and a friend.”

Francis

We never learn Tom’s motivation for helping Francis, but Francis attributes Tom’s friendship and God’s help to all the good things that happened in his life.

Life in America-Endurance

Francis eventually earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and became an American citizen. He worked as a probation and parole agent and now as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counsellor. But even though he worked hard to give back to the country that has given him so much, he experienced racism on his job. Under duress, he made a serious error in judgement in his personal life, almost costing him his freedom.

Coming from Sierra Leone, I had a view of America as a place of unlimited possibility. I felt blessed by God when I landed a state job. I had to learn the hard way that life in America is complex.

Francis

Even when that new life didn’t turn out as perfectly as he hoped, Francis was grateful for the opportunities and considered them gifts from God.

I continue to work on forgiveness and struggle with regret from the past. I continue to believe and trust in God. And there are always bright spots waiting to be discovered.

Francis

My reaction to Friendship

Francis writes in a conversational style, so I felt he was right here talking to me. From his descriptions I “saw” his home country, and the places he visited. He does not hold back from transparently expressing his emotions, even the painful experiences he endured. The story line moves at a steady pace, propelling the reader into the next chapter.

My only regret about the book is not knowing more about Tom Johnson, but that is true to the story, as Francis didn’t know much about his personal life either. He only knew Tom offered him a chance that no one else had, or would have, and changed his life. He did not waste the opportunity but went farther than he imagined.

Francis’ story inspired and moved me so I recommend it to anyone who enjoys true life stories that are better than fiction. 

As a NetGalley reviewer, I received a digital copy of this book and agreed to write a review.

Francis Mandewah

In this video, Francis shares the story of how he was saved from death while crossing the dangerous Sahara Desert.

My own life story has shown me that hope is the most powerful weapon that we can arm ourselves with.

Francis Mandewah

exploring the HEART of health

I hope you will learn more about Francis Mandewah, I found his story remarkable and one worth sharing. I think his example of faith and endurance through hardship can inspire us all.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Medical stethoscope and heart on a textured background

Dr Aletha

Questions and answers about monkeypox

Predominant symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rash ,enlarged lymph nodes, muscle aches, and chills. Most patients with monkeypox have a mild illness. Symptom onset is 7-13 days after exposure, but can be as long as 3 weeks.

updated October 1, 2022

Several poxviruses infect humans, ranging from the deadly smallpox to the contagious but not serious molluscum contagiosum. Now more than 30 countries, including the United States are experiencing an outbreak of monkeypox, which the World Health Organization is calling a”a public health emergency of international concern.”

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox, an orthopoxvirus, was first isolated in the late 1950s from a colony of sick monkeys in Copenhagen Denmark. The virus is related to the variola, smallpox, and vaccinia, coxpox, viruses. The first known human case was found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

Where is monkeypox found?

Since routine smallpox immunization ended, most cases have occurred in Central and West Africa. Sporadic cases have been reported in several non-endemic countries, typically in returning travelers.

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2–4 weeks

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
As of September 13, 2022 there are 59,000 global cases and 22,000 United States cases of monkeypox.
worldwide cases of monkeypox as of SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

How does it spread?

The virus is typically acquired through contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids or through a bite.

Human-to-human transmission can also occur through close contact with infectious skin lesions. Direct contact with lesions that contain the virus can easily transmit the disease .

Transmission can also occur through large respiratory droplets, and prolonged face-to-face contact (eg, within 6 feet for ≥3 hours in the absence of personal protection equipment [PPE]).

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Onset of monkeypox infection is 5 days to 3 weeks after exposure.

Predominant symptoms of monkeypox include

  • fever,
  • rash,
  • enlarged lymph nodes,
  • sore throat,
  • muscle aches,
  • chills,
  • headache

The rash is similar to that of smallpox or chickenpox. The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

How do doctors diagnose monkeypox?

Doctors usually suspect monkeypox based on symptoms, especially a suspicious rash. Testing is done on specimens collected by swabbing monkeypox lesions, but should only be obtained by professionals wearing appropriate PPE.

CDC is working with state and local health officials to identify people who may have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for monkeypox, so they can monitor their health.

CDC website
This electron microscopic (EM) image depicted a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from of a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions.

This electron microscopic (EM) image depicted a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from of a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions. credit CDC, Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery

What treatments are available?

Most patients have mild disease and recover with home supportive care, similar to influenza, COVID, and other viral infections. For the seriously ill patient, medically supervised supportive care is necessary until recovery.

The antiviral agents, tecovirimat and brincidofovir, approved for treatment of smallpox in the United States, work for monkeypox in animals and are likely to work in humans.

Can monkeypox be prevented?

When a rash is present, persons with suspected monkeypox should be considered infectious and be isolated until all scabs separate and results of testing are negative.  

Detailed information on infection control precautions to reduce transmission of monkeypox in the home is on the CDC website.

Persons with close contact with an infected animal or person should be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after their last exposure .

Detailed information on the approach to monitoring after an exposure can be found on the CDC website.

Is there a vaccine?

The JYNNEOS vaccine is approved for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox. It is the primary vaccine being used during this outbreak in the U.S.

The ACAM2000 vaccine is an alternative to JYNNEOS. It is also approved to help protect against smallpox and monkeypox.

Facts about JYNNEOS vaccine 
2 dose vaccine, maximum immunity 14 days after dose 2

Is monkeypox fatal?

In Central Africa, the fatality rate is approximately 10 percent, generally in the second week of illness.

In the 2003 outbreak in the United States, none of the 34 confirmed cases died, although a few became seriously ill, requiring hospitalization.

Exploring the HEART of international health

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

a world globe with crossed bandaids

Dr Aletha

cover image by Jerney Furman

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