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Africa film festival spotlights mothers’ health

Breast-feeding, taking care of South African Aids orphans, giving birth, and the Hollywood portrayal of birth were centre stage at Africa’s first Baby! International Film Festival.The festival arrived at the National Theatre in the capital, Kampala, aiming to raise awareness and spark debate about babies and mothers’ health and orphans.

Organiser, Marvin Nyansio, founder of the children's charity Rejoice Uganda, in central Uganda, has been caring for about 50 orphans, some of whose parents died from HIV/Aids or in childbirth."We wanted to use the films to highlight the issues and show how more ordinary people can get involved in efforts to promote safe motherhood and supporting vulnerable children," Nyansio told the Guardian newspaper.Louise Hogarth's Angels in the Dust, an inspiring documentary about a therapist who turns her back on a comfortable life to set up an orphans’ village in rural South Africa, got the best response.

Aids is destroying entire South African villages, leaving thousands of children orphaned, with no adults to bring them up. Angels in the Dust tells the story of Marion Cloete, a university-trained therapist who— with her husband and three daughters— fearlessly walked away from life in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb to build Botshabelo, a village and school that offers shelter, food, and education to more than 550 South African children.

The stories of the children are interwoven with the tale of the orphaned elephants of Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa. The government practice of culling to control the sizes of herds has torn apart the elephant’s way of life.
As well as showing people with and dying of Aids, the film features children, who have contracted HIV by being raped, and looks at how they are being helped to cope. Some of grow up to become courageous young adults. For Uganda, where HIV/Aids have been about for25 years, cases of children growing up with HIV are very real."There is a challenge of how to deal with young positives. They are going to need full sexual lives, to get married and to have children," said Victoria Kajja, from Uganda’s Foundation, which works to educate young people about sex and sexual health. "So, how can they do this when some of them do not want to disclose their HIV status?"She said psychosocial support for young people who are HIV-positive is essential and, called for support groups to help families and schools.

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