News / Arts & Entertainment

Oscar-Nominated Film Traces Journey of Ailing African Youngsters

Oscar-Nominated Film Traces Journey of Ailing African Youngstersi
X
February 15, 2013 5:22 AM
The film "Open Heart" is about eight children with rheumatic heart disease who travel from Rwanda to Sudan for life-saving heart surgery. The short documentary has been nominated for an Academy Award. And as VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, filmmaker Kief Davidson hopes it will spread awareness about a widespread health problem in Africa.

Oscar-Nominated Film Traces Journey of Ailing African Youngsters

TEXT SIZE - +
Mike O'Sullivan
— The film Open Heart  is about eight children with rheumatic heart disease who travel from Rwanda to Sudan for life-saving surgery. The short documentary is nominated for an Academy Award, and filmmaker Kief Davidson said he hopes it will spread awareness about a widespread health problem in Africa.

The film follows Rwandan cardiologist Emmanuel Rusingiza as he struggles to save young heart patients, some with just months to live.  

“You know, sometimes when I go back home, I spend many hours and think about my patients who are not doing well,” said Rusingiza.

A journey to a hospital in Sudan, called the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, offers hope to eight of those children, their heart valves damaged by acute rheumatic fever. The center is run by an Italian charity.

Davidson tells the story through the eyes of the youngsters and their families.

“I think anyone, particularly anyone who has kids, could only imagine what it must be like for those families,” he said.

The parents had to stay behind in Rwanda, not knowing if their children would survive or if they would ever see them again. Dr. Rusingiza led the children on their journey.

“This stay is going to be a bit long, in a country far from theirs. So it is hard,” he said.

These children suffer from rheumatic heart disease, caused by untreated strep throat that eventually damages heart valves. The problem was once common in the United States, but is now rare, said Davidson.

“And it is as simple as just having access to antibiotics to help solve the problem,” said Davidson.

He said the children's story is getting attention now that the film has been nominated for an Oscar.

“If this gets people talking, and it will, that is when change could happen,” said Davidson.

Rheumatic heart disease affects more than 15 million people worldwide. Health officials say that better distribution of antibiotics and diagnostic tools could save children in Africa and other parts of the developing world.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.