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Dear Mothers
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Weathering Change: Ayneshet
The extraordinary challenges and hard-won successes around maternal and newborn healthcare in Moba, a region along the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo, form the center of this short film about the power of basic maternal health education in saving lives.
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Produced and directed by Lisa Cole, Mark Monroe, and Fisher Stevens.

Learn more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Short Film Initiative, a collaboration with the Sundance Institute.

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Segment 1

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Produced by Diamond Docs
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Produced in association with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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Dear Mothers
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Lake Tanganyika, Democratic Republic of Congo
DR. AMY LEHMAN [Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic]
The main objectives of coming to the DRC are to try to replicate the same sort of system that we’ve begun, which has great momentum in Tanzania. It’s to meet with the appropriate government officials to get the blessing from people both in the ministry of health, but possibly at higher levels as well, and to just learn the similarities and differences between the two major coastlines of Lake Tanganyika.
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Along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, access to health care is extremely limited. American surgeon Dr. Amy Lehman is working to change that -- seeking out, creating and fostering sustainable solutions to a health care crisis.
DR. AMY LEHMAN
Lake Tanganyika is bordered by four countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia. It’s the longest lake in the world; it’s the second deepest lake on Earth. It holds 18 percent of the world’s fresh water and ten million people in the basin with three million living directly on the water.
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The Democratic Republic of Congo has been devastated by violence and instability. Dr. Lehman and her team know that health care and resources are scarce here, so tracking evidence of what works helps inform their work for the future.
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In Moba Port, she met Vincent Mokusa, a farmer who for nine years has organized a community health volunteer group, the “relais communautaires.” This group educates their peers with practical, simple interventions, including information on when expectant mothers should go to the clinic.
DR. NGOIE RIGOBERT [Chief Of Medicine, Moba General Hospital]
We call them the “relais communautaires.” He/she is a volunteer -- someone who sacrifices his or her time for the benefit of the community.
MUKOBE KABAILA [Volunteer, Relais Communautaire]
What makes me happy is knowing that if I help my people, they’re going to benefit. I would like them to live well, with good health and education.
URBAIN KATAMBALA [Nurse, Moba General Hospital]
The mothers are in the habit of giving birth at home, but they wait there until the fetus is in trouble or until something goes wrong with the birth and then their family members bring them with complications and we quickly try to save the life of the mother and the child.
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Dr. Lehman’s organization engages community workers, like the Relais Communautaire, to help execute their programming.
DR. AMY LEHMAN
On an early morning, the line at the prenatal clinic proves Vincent’s volunteers are being heard. Meanwhile, his group teaches young mothers how to make a simple porridge, rich in protein and vitamin A, essential for early childhood development. Started by western aid organizations, Vincent’s volunteers teach with the help of a brochure donated by UNICEF, but they operate on their own now without any financial support.
WOMEN (Singing)
Dear mothers: you should increase the food. Eat meat, eggs, fish, and greens. These are good foods for a healthy baby.
VINCENT MOKUSA [Relais Communautaire]
Whenever we see that people are being helped we feel joy because there will be development, which means the area is changing; the world is changing.
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As changes in maternal health care take hold in this community, the future holds not only hope, but also the promise of progress and improved lives. To learn more about these issues, visit www.gatesfoundation.org. For further information about Dr. Lehman’s Lake Tanganyika Project, visit, www.floatingclinic.org.