In the Belly of the Elephant by Susan Corbett

belly-of-elephant-COVEREverybody needs to run away from home at least once. Susan Corbett told people she was out to save the world, but really she was running — running from her home as much as to anywhere. Like many women, she was searching for meaning to her life or for a good man to share it with. In Africa, she hoped to find both.

  • Compelling and compassionate, In the Belly of the Elephant is Susan’s transformative story of what happens when you decide to try to achieve world peace while searching for a good man. More than a fish-out-of-water story, it’s a surprising and heart-rending account of her time in Africa trying to change the world as she battles heat, sandstorms, drought, riots, intestinal bugs, burnout, love affairs and more than one meeting with death. Against a backdrop of vivid beauty and culture, in a narrative interwoven with a rich tapestry of African myths and fables, Susan learns the true simplicity of life, and discovers people full of kindness, wisdom and resilience, and shares with us lessons we, too, can learn from her experiences.

    In the Belly of the Elephant captures the excitement, majesty, and sorrow of being young and working in a remote foreign country and will speak to anyone who is grappling with global humanitarianism. In her book, Susan Corbett repeatedly confronts timeless feelings of uncertainty– of guilt, insecurity, hopelessness– while proving that compassion, sincerity, and hard work can have a meaningful impact in a community. The characters in Susan’s book will leave you humbled and re-instill a desire for human equality.


    Because of her talent for imagery, I was able to experience every adventure with Susan (the author and main character of the book).

    I was with her in mud huts, military take overs, helplessly holding sick children, saving lives, romantic – and sometimes unromantic – encounters. I felt the angst that comes with wanting to achieve two divergent dreams in life: saving the world in Africa and starting a family in the U.S.

    Artfully woven within her candid stories is African folklore beautifully tying into the lessons she learns along the way.

    Photo with dogA writer, community organizer, and consultant in program management, micro-enterprise development, family planning, and HIV/AIDS education, Susan Corbett began her community development career in 1976 as a Peace Corps Volunteer, working in a health clinic in Liberia, West Africa. In 1979, she joined Save the Children Federation as a program coordinator for cooperative and small business projects in Burkina Faso.  In 1982, Susan returned to the States where she has worked with local non-profits in drug and alcohol prevention for runaway youth, family planning, homelessness prevention, and immigrant issues.Susan has traveled to over 40 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean, and Central and North America and has lived and worked in ten African countries over the past thirty years (Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, The Gambia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Liberia). She lives in Colorado with her husband, Steve, her sons, Mitch & Sam, and her dog, Molly. 
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