THE International Community Film Festival in Northamptonshire, England ? happening from Sept 15 to 17 ? will be featuring a mini-documentary on Malaysia?s Sarawak Village Health Promoters (VHP) Program.
The documentary, titled Reaching the Hard to Reach, showcases how simple ideas can become beneficial programmes for underprivileged children. Produced by United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF), it is directed by Malaysians Ahmad Yazid and Lydia Lubon.
In a press release, Gaye Phillips, UNICEF representative to Malaysia, was reported as saying: ?We are thrilled that this documentary will reach a global audience. Unicef chose to make a documentary about this particular government programme because we felt it was an important story to tell and others would be inspired by it. For it to be screened at an international film festival certainly helps us to meet our objective.?
This programme existed since the early 1980s to help improve the health and well-being of indigenous people in Malaysia. Today, there are more than 2,500 trained and dedicated promoters ? remote villagers trained by government hospital staff ? reaching out to nearly 2,000 villages around Sarawak.
Shot at Belikau Longhouse, Pulau Raya and Kuching, the story is told through the eyes of a 27-year-old Iban mother named Umba anak Kujat, who lives in a longhouse in deep in Sarawak?s rainforest. The nearest health facility is at least an hour away by speedboat.
Reaching the Hard to Reach shows how Umba and her fellow villagers are able to get medical help at their longhouse doorstep as a result of this programme.
Co-director Lubon, who is of an Iban descent, said in the press release: ?I feel truly blessed and grateful to UNICEF for the opportunity to create a socially conscious film about a great Government programme. As a Malaysian filmmaker, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to give back to my community through film.?
To see a three-minute preview Reaching the Hand to Reach visit www.unicef.org/infobycountry/malaysia_34164.html.
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