Hearts of Zambia
In a traditional African village of thatched huts, cattle and cornfields, a woman watches as her grandchildren pound kernels of corn under a brilliant blue sky. Not far from this idyllic scene her son lies buried, one of countless victims of an invisible enemy that has claimed the lives of mothers and fathers and left 1.8 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. That enemy is HIV/AIDS.
“Hearts of Zambia” is a documentary journal about the power of hope and compassion in the face of tragedy. Work on “Hearts of Zambia” began in July 2009, when three filmmakers from NET Television traveled 9,000 miles to Zambia to tell the story of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Their trip was at the invitation of Dr. Charles Wood, head of the Nebraska Center for Virology in Lincoln, Neb., whose clinic is at the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS research.
In Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka, one of every five people is HIV positive and the poor come to Dr. Wood’s clinic for free treatment. Together, Wood and his Zambian partner Dr. Chipepo Kankasa are educating mothers about HIV transmission so their children can be born virus free. Dr. Kankasa knows she could make a lot more money by leaving her native Zambia. “But I feel somebody has to remain behind and fight this war,” she said.
“Hearts of Zambia” reveals the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. A young man who is HIV positive and blind sings a song of gratitude and tells of his dream to help the orphans of Zambia when he becomes rich. At a hospice a woman paints her nails and waits for her grandmother to visit. Beneath the blanket her legs are swollen with an AIDS related virus, but she has hope that she will one day walk.
The program also takes viewers to The Red Elephant, where a small group of dedicated Zambians rescue and educate orphans -- assigning guardians to each of them until they are able to live on their own. And, at the SOS Children’s Village in Lusaka, a young woman who grew up an orphan explains that she has a scholarship to medical school in Michigan where she dreams of finding a cure for AIDS.
“Thinking back on the people we met, we realized that what defines Zambia is not HIV and AIDS. What defines Zambia is hope,” said “Hearts of Zambia” producer Christine Lesiak.