Madam Courage is the story of Arja Kari, the author's wife and soul mate. Born in Finland, Arja's childhood was immersed in the love and succour of her extended family. From these experiences came the self-confidence and courage that allowed her to face the challenges of life. Arja's great thirst for knowledge about other countries and the fascinating people from these different societies began with her ever-growing list of childhood penfriends. Never overly interested in formal studies (except perhaps in languages), Arja's passion was for the school of life. She travelled in her vacation times, paying for her travels by working mostly in hospitals and hostels. It was while on one of these trips that Arja met one of her penfriends who was later to become her husband and partner in life. Together they then continued the adventure that was Madam Courage's life.