Comic Relief Dead Serious is a Documentary programme.
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Comic Relief Dead Serious
The BBC's Fergal Keane, Paul Bradley (formerly Nigel from EastEnders), a genocide and Comic Relief are not the most likely of combinations but this is an extraordinary film about the most extraordinary circumstances.
In the tiny African country of Rwanda in 1994, nearly a million people were slaughtered in 100 days - a rate of killing greater than the Holocaust. What has since come to light is that during the genocide, the HIV virus was spread in a deliberate campaign of mass rapes. Now theres hardly a women infected in 1994 who isn't dead or dying and the children who survived a genocide are saying goodbye to the one person left alive to care for them: their mother or foster mother. THese are some of the most damaged children in the world. They have had their hearts broken and now they face the future alone.
It is one of the saddest stories imaginable. The women are praying they will stay alive as long as possible, so their children will be that bit older when they are left alone to fend for themselves. But they are desperately poor and their bodies are weak from a poor diet and gruelling hard work. Seven years ofter they were raped, the HIV virus is taking its toll. They know their time is up.
Fergal Keane reported the genocide as it unfolded in 1994 and has been back many times since. "Rwanda is the kind of place that once it has touched you, it never goes away," he says.
Paul Bradley had visited Rwanda once before. Two years ago, he volunteered to join Comic Relief to make an appeal film for Red Nose Day, reporting on the remarkable achievements of a group of widows being helped by Comic Relief money. "I really didn't want to come back here again, to be honest. I don't know how I could respond to seeing my children killed, my wife killed, my brothers and sister killed, the friends that I have. I don't know how I would go on. But these women do. And it's a lesson to the world".
Fergal and Paul join forces with the remarkable Esther Mujawayo who, with two other widows, started the Widows of the Genocide project that is now 30,000 strong. For all three it is a journey back to their nightmares, but it is also a l;ook into the future as they see how Comic Relief money can play its part in helping the women to help their children while they still can.
Presented by : Fergal Keane & Paul Bradley
Produced by : Kate Broome
Running Time: 50 minutes (approx)
Database last updated: 20 July - 19:20