Chikankata is a Salvation Army mission in the middle of the barren Zambian bush. While the mission's volunteers enjoy some basic comforts provided by the Army's reservoir and utilities, life for the villagers in the surrounding regions is harsh beyond imagination. It's a life where children go without education and basic medical care, where women live at the mercy of men, and where men perpetrate violent acts against each other. At the heart of this story is Dr. Nicky Carter, a woman who has clawed her way out of a Pittsburg ghetto to become a physician and volunteered her services to the Army for six months. Observing the villagers through the scrutinizing eyes of a doctor, she becomes horrified by what she sees, by the brutality of Africa's poverty, and is too distressed to notice the natural beauties of the country. Nicky endeavors to find understanding and turns to the three men around her, each from different worlds. Little does she know of the futility of her search and the tragic betrayals and misunderstandings that await her. The only man from her world is an older medical student from Canada, Samuel, who has a romantic vision of the African bush and only compounds Nicky's suffering. The two other men, who see the realities that she does, come from vastly different worlds: a local schoolteacher, Musamba, who betrays Nicky's trust, and a blue-collar handyman, Mick, whose misplaced humility keeps him from fully reaching out to Nicky.
Writing with a relentless and lyrical rhythm that brings home the realities of life in the Zambian bush, the author conveys this world with a precision that could only come from someone with first hand experience and insight.