Generation Rescue follows the stories of four women who are taking part in a pioneering project to lift them out of extreme poverty. 2015 marks the deadline for the UN’s ambitious plans to end extreme poverty around the world. The eight “Millennium Development Goals” were launched in 2000 including targets to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, empower women and combat HIV aids. While significant progress has been made on some goals there is still a long way to go. The women in this film live in Burundi – central Africa – one of the poorest countries in the world. The women will receive help with food, housing, healthcare, education and crucially business skills. But the support is only temporary. As they start to earn their own money, financial aid is gradually withdrawn. In three years they must become self-sufficient. After a lifetime living on the breadline, little education and poor health have they got what it take to turn their lives around? At the start of the film we meet Grace, a businesswoman in Kigali, Rwanda. in 2006 she was penniless, malnourished and starving. Now she is a successful retailer running a furniture business employing eleven people. In an astonishingly short space of time Grace has gone from rags to riches, all thanks to the help she received from an international charity. Every year the charity chooses 100 desperately poor people to take part in its Village Programme. Combining help with food, health, hygiene, education and most important of all, an income generating occupation – it aims to give young families a secure start in life. But the help lasts for just three years. After that the families are expected to be self sufficient. Will the latest recruits to the scheme be able to match Grace’s success? 100 miles from Kigali, on the outskirts of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, 34-year-old Dorothy has just been taken onto the Village Programme. She’s spent most of her adult life scavenging on a rubbish dump and hates the stench, filth and the flies, but needs to feed her five children. Scavenging on the dump is the only way she knows how, but Dorothy’s days on the dump are numbered. Since joining the programme she has been given food, has been taught how to keep her house clean (3 months ago it stank) and is about to set up her own business – selling vegetables in the village market. But Dorothy cannot read or write.
How will she cope? Mother of 11, Julienne is also being helped. She and her children live in just one room. Julienne is a widow, HIV+ and breastfeeding. There’s a risk that her 6-month-old son, Don De Dieu, may pick up the HIV virus through the milk – so both are on anti-retroviral drugs and being closely monitored. It’s not her only problem. Her landlord is about to kick her out because she’s been unable to pay the rent and the new house that the charity have helped organize the building of is a long way from being finished. Julienne may soon be homeless. For widow Esperance it’s a different story. She has been on the Village Programme for over a year and life couldn’t be better. In one year she has gone from abject poverty to running several small businesses and with real business acumen. A small start up fund from the charity allowed her to sell breakfast buns and tea. Now she branched into selling inexpensive clothing, creating shirts and skirts from the bin ends of fabrics. Esperance dreams of travelling to Dubai and Kampala to buy and import goods. Will she fulfill her dream of moving into a new house? Young couple Jean Marie and Jeanette have also seen their lives turn around. Like Esperance, they have gone from being unable to feed their family of six children to now having three meals a day and money in the bank. All in the space of a year. Jeanette used money from the charity to set up a business buying and selling rice and Jean Marie supplements their income by growing his own rice fields once owned by his parents. Jean Marie’s parents and five of his brothers were killed during the civil war leaving Jean Marie an orphan at just 10-years-old. Unable to cope on his own he joined the rebel army. He has now found stability with Jeanette, but despite fathering six children with her he has refused to get married. After realising that his children will not be able to inherit his land unless he gets married Jean Marie has a change of heart. A big day of celebration is planned.