Scourges of the Gods - Expeditions

MSF

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Photos Riitta Skytt

Preliminary research expedition

West-Africa
Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo
March  2005

Producer Riitta Skytt and Director Ilkka Hannula

Excerpts from the journal

Friday 18.3.

    Burkina Faso Ouagadougou

    MSF IEC Coordinator Ms Isabella Poplemont had arranged a meeting for us with the Head of Mission Dr Walter Lorenz. We discussed of the local situation of AIDS, malaria and meningitis. Dr Lorenz expressed his appreciation of our Scourges of the Gods -project which he thought highly recommendable. We then visited a CMA hospital for AIDS patients and met several doctors and project officials. The hospital was in a very good working order and very clean. We were permitted to interview some of the patients and document the patients’ quarters and the outside of the premises.

    In the afternoon Isabelle and Pediatrician Dr Joanna Morris took us to visit the AFUD organization centre.The aim of this organization is to help women and their children who have been driven away from their homes because of the AIDS. Two of the women, Susan and Sofi told us their stories, how they had caught the disease and what happened in their lives afterwards. Both were very grateful to the organization and they seemed to feel cautiously hopeful for their future life.

    In the evening we met some of the members of the VIE+ organization. Many of them are HIV-positive. They go round to the homes of other patients to help.

Saturday 19.3.

    We drove back to CMA hospital, where we filmed an interview with the Head of Mission Dr Walter Lorenz. In the afternoon we documented an interview with two of the MSF specialists Dr Salem Sanne and Dr Alain Hien. They told us about the malaria situation in Burkina Faso.

Tuesday 22.3

    Benin, Grand Popo

    In the morning the MSF Project Manager Mr Bruno Kerzmann drove us to the MSF office in Dogbo. There we met with the Head of Mission Ms Els Lybaeck and introduced our project. Mr Kerzmann had invited eight representatives of the own organization of local AIDS patients to meet us. After listening to their stories we chose three totally different and very moving ones for documentation. Market saleswoman Antoinette Koutepho 28, motorbike mechanician Robert Amegnanve 38 and mechanician and welder Nestor Agossou 56 told to our camera of their lives and plans for the future.

China, Nanning
December 2006

    Monday 18.12.

    We drove in a taxi to the University of Traditional Medicine of Guanxi. Mr Wei and the photographer were waiting to make a report about our visit. A very pleasant elderly man, professor Zhao Yi, met us in the hall. We gave him a gift from Bama, an elixir believed to give you long life. In the University Botanical Garden he told us and the cameras about the history and the present of the treatment with artemisine -- and also about the newest results and future developments. He invited us to his home where he had a collage of photos and diagrams from his researches on the wall. He told us about the ashtonishing results of the earlier studies: artemisine cured 100 percent of all malaria patients and also the majority of patiets suffering from other infectional diseases -- it was a miracle plant. He took us to the newly founded company that is preparing artemisine in gel form. According to him, a drug in that form cures malaria even faster than pills. We visited the laboratories, too, and everything seemed very modern and in good condition. The students were fascinated by traditional medicine.