Molly Melching, Danville High School alumnus, is the subject of the new book, “However Long the Night” that was released on April 30.
Melching grew up in Danville in the 1960s, where she attended North Ridge Junior High School and Danville High School. She enjoyed swimming at Lake Vermilion, and every summer she and her friends would walk to the Custard Cup in the evenings. She would walk to school every day, and participated in many activities while there, such as drama club, choir, the school newspaper, pompettes and the French Club.
Molly’s French teacher, Georgia Reed, greatly influenced her life. She always encouraged Molly to travel and learn about new cultures and people. After her junior year of high school, she went on a two month trip to France that changed her life. After this, she dreamed of visiting other lands and learning about different views and lifestyles.
Molly first went to Africa in 1974 while she was studying for her master’s degree at the University of Illinois and teaching a course on French society. She often invited Africans from French-speaking West Africa to come talk to her class. That year, the French department started an exchange program with the University of Dakar in Senegal, West Africa, and Melching was selected into the program for six months, but today has lived there for 39 years.
“However Long the Night” is about Melching’s experience living and working in Africa. It details her beginnings at the University of Dakar and follows her years in Senegal as she became a social entrepreneur and one of humanity’s strongest voices for women’s rights. She founded Tostan, an organization that empowers African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.
Melching is a grantee of the Skoll Foundation, a social entrepreneurship foundation which has produced films such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Help.”