In the Heart of the Congo, at the end of five years of civil war and 300 miles from the nearest paved road, a handful of aid workers help refugees who have lost everything. Filmmaker Tom Weidlinger lives amongst them and tells their story as they train Congolese staff to run health clinics, mobilize villagers to dig wells for clean water and nurse children suffering from acute malnutrition.
War changes people’s sense of time. Survival has become a day-by-day proposition. It makes no sense to plan for tomorrow when everything can so easily be taken away. Yet thinking ahead, planting seeds for the future, is the path out of misery. Beyond ministering to immediate hunger and disease, the European and Congolese aid workers struggle to nurture villagers’ collective will and courage to build a self-sufficient future.
Threats of violence from roving militia bands, systemic corruption, and the legacy of colonial dependency are daily obstacles. When Weidlinger comes down with malaria, two aid workers pick up the camera and continue to skillfully document their work. The film goes on even as the entire aid operation is threatened by a return of violence, with civilians inevitably caught in the middle. A village is burned, three health centers are pillaged, and health workers are taken hostage, but the heroes of this film, both Congolese and European, go on. Heart of the Congo is a film about courage, hope, perseverance and ways in which humanitarian aid can make a lasting difference.
The aid workers profiled in the film work for Action Against Hunger, an international non-governmental aid organization. Beyond the access allowed to the filmmaker, Action Against Hunger had no role in the concoption, production or funding of the documentary.
Action Against Hunger (AAH) is dedicated to saving the lives of severely malnourished children and adults while seeking long-term solutions to hunger.
For over 25 years, AAH has addressed hunger through integrated programs in nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, and primary health care. With programs in over 40 countries, specializing in emergency situations of war, conflict, and natural disaster, AAH’s ultimate goal is to help vulnerable populations regain their self-sufficiency for long term sustainability.
AAH’s Scientific Committee pioneered the therapeutic milk formula (F100) now used by all major humanitarian organizations. The therapeutic feeding centers are at the heart of our nutritional program: in less than 30 days, children and adults dying from acute malnutrition are cured.
Since the 1979 launching of its first mission in Afghanistan, AAH has expanded to 4 headquarters with programs in over 40 countries worldwide. Every day, more than 400 nutritionists, logisticians, nurses, medical doctors, agronomists, and hydro engineers manage AAH programs in collaboration with approximately 4000 locally trained and professional staff. AAH brings relief to over 4 million people each year through our life-saving, proven, and cost-effective programs.
Recognized as a world leader in the fight against malnutrition, AAH’s International Network adhere to a charter of principles that forms the foundation of humanitarian commitment: independence, impartiality, free and direct access to victims, professionalism and transparency.