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Scott Kellermann left his medical practice in California to travel to Southwestern Uganda. His goal was to set up a clinic to offer health services and help the sick population of Batwa pygmies. When Kellermann and his wife first arrived, they found the death rate among Batwan children under the age of 5 to be about 38%, while the death rate among other Ugandan children was about 18%.
As they searched for the reasons for this death rate, they found an article that explained that poverty was the main contributor to malnutrition, handicap, disease, birth defects, death during childbirth, stress, suicide, family disintegration, and a host of other conditions. In order to address the high death rate, the underlying cause had to be addressed.
The clinic was named the Bwindi Community Health Center and each season it invites medical students to gain experience as they help the clinic reach its goal. This film follows one such young medical student, David, as he travels into the heart of rural Africa to volunteer at the health center.
At the age of 26 he left the comforts of his home with high expectations about making a difference and activating change. He traveled for hours to get to a place he’d never been to before to deal with a culture he’d never really had to deal with before. When asked why he needed to go so far away, his response was that staying was just not interesting enough.
After a few days at the clinic, the young medical student still felt out of place. He strongly believed that if he was going to make a difference he needed to be out in the community, particularly the schools. Public health programs are all about changing behavior and it would be easiest to start with the children.
At the local school David finds out that most of the children suffer from worms and scabies, especially those who have lost their parents. Most of them have poor sanitation because they have poor hygiene habits.
Ironically, after many decades of dozens of organizations sending aid to Africa, more people are living under the poverty line and things just seem to be getting worse instead of improving. The explanation for this is complicated and has many ramifications.
Once a week the center holds an outreach clinic in a remote Batwa settlement. Most of the cases that show up are of preventable diseases. The big question is why the resources weren’t being used for sanitation, supplying clean water, education about better farming practices.
Frustration threatens to take over when there seems to be no change. The will to contribute was there, but no matter how hard David tried, everything just seemed to stay the same.
This documentary explores the beauty of Africa, its peculiarities, and the hope of a better tomorrow. Watch this now.