2008’s Life for a Child is certainly a well-meaning and important informational short film, but it never grabbed me in more than a small way. For all intents and purposes it’s the equivalent of an infomercial-length late night commercial for Save the Children or a similar charity, showing suffering foreign children and explaining why they need your help.
The film is about the International Diabetes Federation’s “Life for a Child” program, which assists children around the world with diabetes. It tells the story of several such children and their families in Nepal specifically. Some are in the capital of Kathmandu, and some are in truly remote sparsely populated areas with no health care providers. One family, for instance, must walk multiple hours to get to the nearest place that a bus passes by to take them to the nearest town with any facilities where their diabetic child can be treated.
There’s certainly a lot of natural beauty in the country, and the people seem poor but subsisting OK. (A lot of that is a matter of choice of the filmmakers of whom to include and how to depict them, rather than necessarily providing much insight into what life is like for most people living in Nepal.)
And the diabetic children, for that matter, are getting medical care. They inject themselves every day, their parents assist them as needed, and they do at least sometimes make the necessary effort to see a doctor. The message isn’t so much that medical care needs to be made available to children like these who lack access to it, but that more needs to be done to alleviate the hardships in attaining such care. That could mean more clinics to cut down on travel time, cheaper medication, better education, etc. As a doctor interviewee notes, a lot of the parents are illiterate and need to have it impressed upon them that diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires always sticking precisely to the prescribed treatment; you can’t cut corners because the kid’s feeling fine today or because money’s a little short.
I felt for the kids to some extent, and again there’s no doubt this is a worthwhile cause, but as art the film didn’t do much for me.
More information about the “Life for a Child” program can be found at the International Diabetes Foundation’s website.