Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), although rich in natural resources, remains one of the poorest countries of the developing world due to years of socio-economic instability brought about by longstanding civil war and famine. As a country, it upholds some of the lowest standards of women’s rights, with the eastern province of South Kivu representing one of the most dangerous regions for women and girls on record. Women face a unique set of challenges. There is a saying in DRC: ‘Your child is only yours when it reaches its fifth year’. This is because it is often commonplace that childbirth results in the death of both mother and child due to a lack of pre/post natal care, birthing oversight, and sanitation.
These statistics can be greatly reduced, as New Life in Congo documents a new approach in Development Aid: Performance Based Financing (PBF). This revolutionary program focuses on financing individuals and small groups (instead of failing governments) to improve and take personal responsibility for the basic needs of their community. Overall, this film demonstrates the positive impact PBF has on the Congolese healthcare system specifically due to the unique way programs are developed, implemented, and financially supported.
We follow two Congolese women: Byenda, 23 who just gave birth to her third child; and Arial who is expecting her seventh child. Both women live a life that is constantly fraught with a lack of food and the ever-looming threat of sexual violence. Nevertheless, they are optimistic and continue to fight for a better existence. In spite of the necessity for future improvements, with the implementation of PBF in the health care system, Byenda and Aurélie are supported by doctors and nurses, and can bare their child in healthier conditions.
The film was realized in collaboration with Cordaid Netherlands and was selected for: New Filmmakers WinterFest New York, January 2015 / DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, January 2014 / Somnio Festival Alkmaar, September 2012 (rough cut).