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Jason Bortz

Africa it is.

25 posts in this topic

We've been given the green light (read: the funding).

We'll be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya on June 14th to shoot a documentary on HEART and their efforts, returning on July 1.

Needless to say, it's an overwhelming task fraught with privilege and anticipation juxtaposing the notional understanding that we'll be filming hordes of joyful children with death sentences.

As we shoot, we'll also be working on a secondary piece--kind of a 'Making of...' coupled with 'Reality TV.' We'll be chronicling our own experiences concurrently with HEART's story--hopefully, as an end result, to educate a demographic that wouldn't normally tune in to such a documentary surrounding Health Education Africa Resource Team.

Ultimately, we hope to breathe life and hope into a dying continent that people most commonly associate with hunger and primitives.

By the grace of God, we're going to do our best.

Prayers will be accepted in bulk.

----------

Edited by Jason Bortz

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We're cutting a version of the documentary for entry into festival programs and offering to Discovery Channel-type venues. We'll cut a 'Filmmaker Experience' version that'll probably run about 25 minutes with the secondary subject matter (us).

A 15 minute piece will be used in all of HEART's fundraising efforts, benefits, etc.

A 3 minute segment will be used for the web, for a 'Who We Are' minidisc and for a corporate sponsorship hook.

All of these will be available on a DVD as well. smile.gif

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Son, you've made me a very proud papa today.

Oh, shoot! I wasn't supposed to let that secret out of the bag!

Anyway, congratulations, and please keep us posted. This would be a great place for your project diary/blog.

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Sure thing.

I'll chronicle the effects of the ebola strain!

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Here we go.

We board for Kenya at 8:35 AM Monday morning, scheduled to arrive on Wednesday after stopovers in Birmingham, England and the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.

Prayers would be cool.

My goal is to complete a work that encapsulates not only the need in Africa, but primarily the hope which inspires empathy of no small scale. Ultimately, I would like to educate the viewers with the reality of a dying nation infused with the heart of its people, a people willing to learn, to embrace any means of escaping a heinous end.

It’s a drop in the bucket, you know? The need far outweighs the efforts on an epic scale; it is estimated by 2010 the demographic between 18-36 will be decimated—and there’s no real way to stop that from happening. But HEART is making strides, teaching a model village program that the native Afrikaners can implement and teach to their villages that can curtail the continued practices proven so unwittingly self-destructive. They have achieved in 4 years what missionaries have failed to accomplish in 30—hope.

John Drew (Ba’al T’shuvah) is accompanying me as my sound tech, and Brian Hamm as my Director of Photography. Please offer up a thought if you’re of a mind—

I’ve no doubt we will return.

And return changed, in no small way, by the experience.

---------------

Edited by Jason Bortz

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What you're doing is awesome, Jason and John. My prayers are with you, and I look forward to hearing more about your adventure.

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Ditto. This is really an inspiration. You guys are in all our prayers, I'm sure. A drop in the bucket, maybe, but you can't cause a flood without a few raindrops. (Why do good deeds so often inspire bad poetry? dry.gif )

Seriously, though, God bless you guys. Safe travels.

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yeah,

All the best Jason

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We're back.

I could not have wished for a better experience. Everything went perfectly, abundantly—even the heartbreak was gentle and reassuring, as though to say Yes, now you know—take this with you, that others may see and believe.

And then the other times, like ‘Doesn’t matter who sees this—it won’t be the same as being here.

We shot over 30 hours of footage and it’s gonna be a bit of a chore to edit it down to 50 minutes, 15 minutes and 5 minutes—from interviews with the Minister of Health and Education to the President’s daughter and finally his second wife (read: not his second marriage—his second wife. Got two of ‘em, he does) to the orphanages, the slums, the villages and children and the safaris (lions mating at 5 metres, among other things)…

It’ll take some doing, it will.

Anywho, I wrote a lot while there, as my sleeping schedule was all messed up and I just abandoned hope of sound sleep for the duration. One of the pieces is below…

Thanks for the prayers of those who accompanied us in spirit. Feel free to throw out questions & such if you’re so inclined. smile.gif

------------------

Words fail.

That whole thing about the spirit moaning that only God understands?

My soul is overwhelmed right now.

I can't articulate properly the orphanage in the slums. I can't really paint a picture that does it any form of justice--because there is no justice there.

But God gives.

I see children more alive than any adult I know.

I see such wonder, awe and joy--such simple recognizable treasure housed within the vault of every child's heart, and in a situation where one would think every coin, every sparkling gem might have been stolen--

Riches.

Eyes shining to overflow with the riches of the soul.

For the few years they have, they will live. Among the cesspools, the vermin and pests--flowing aglitter beneath the darkness and the rotting shards of humanity, there washes a tide of bright and overflowing love.

I touched them. I touched their heads, their hands--I stooped to meet them eye to eye and gave all I could: a smile. A moment. A nod. A voice in a language they did not speak but understood.

And then I had to go.

I had to walk along the rime of sewage, stepping gingerly over and through their wasteland. To creep sideways along the narrow paths between the buildings marked with X, condemned, awaiting doom. To crouch beneath the eaves of steel, to enter darkness with a shameful wave granting assent. To meet the eyes of coal--to see some run, revealing diamonds--or behold the hatred of the damned.

Here I am, Lord, sent and standing firmly where I must.

Here I am, Lord, beholding jewels we’ve scattered in the dust.

Anger doesn’t help, sorrow no good. Just determination to offer something of myself, my soul—

As dark as their world is, they have illuminated mine.

We have everything at our disposal — everything at the tips of our fingers — and we often live as though we’ve nothing but time.

They have nothing but life — when life is everything — and they’ve no time.

What can we do, you know?

The littlest thing — anything.

Anything at all.

With all of our heart, even a nod in a language they don’t speak — even this.

With all of our heart, it is enough.

It is enough to begin something.

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I'm happy to hear it went so well for you, Jason, that our prayers and many others were answered so graciously. May your finished projects stir many hearts to action.

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Jason, I'm so sorry I didn't see this before you left! I'd have added some good wishes, too. Well, now that you're back I'll pray for the editing process. wink.gif

It

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The situation here can, at times, seem overwhelming.  At times, I want to say, "This is an ocean, and anything I do is just a drop in that ocean."  But God is bigger than the ocean.  God knows how many drops make up the ocean and loves each one.

Once you've made your final cut, you'll have to share it with us!!

Man I LOVE drop in the ocean quotes!

Check this from Mother Teresa:

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. I do not agree with the big way of doing things.

And try this:

Drops in the Ocean

Though I am but a drop in the ocean

I am still the ocean

I touch every drop around me

that touches every other

the greatest that I am

Is no more than my least

I can be the gentle motion

that rocks the boat of lovers

or the angry crashing waves

that smash sandcastle dreams on my shore

the reflected moonlight glistens

off my calm smooth tide this night

Yet within me is always the power

Of the tsunami

Though I am but a drop in the ocean

I am still the ocean

And so are you.

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For the update, Click me.

For an idea of what I've been consumed by, a frame taken from the video (24p DVX100):

user posted image

These are orphans playing in the playground at Cana Cares, an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi. Cana Cares serves 100 of the thousand or so orphans in the 7x.5 square kilometer stretch. Two-thirds of the children have AIDS, but Mary Mambo gives them a life as though they will grow to fruition--in order to qualify for the orphanage, a death certificate from both parents as a direct result of AIDS must be proffered.

They learn of the three R's and of the love of God before their demise; they are joyful, full of life, and beautiful.

-------

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Jason, thanks for the informative, sobering blog entry. You're involved in some vital and exciting work here. When it becomes accessible, I'll be eager to do what I can to spread the word at Looking Closer and CT.

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We finished the half hour piece last night. All that remains is the DVD transfer.

This is, by far, the best thing I've ever been privileged enough to be entrusted with to present--and the end result (so far--we've still the 90 minute piece to create) amazes me.

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We now have 1,000 copies of the DVD.

We sold about 60 at the benefits--40 more and they'll have paid for themselves. They'll be available online on the HEART site.

HEART is going to take the proceeds from the rest of them and turn it around into a 'video fund' geared toward getting it into people's hands and toward getting us over there again for more footage as things progress.

Meantime, I'm submitting into festivals like a madman. The total running time is 29:47, just under the mark for the short documentary category.

So far, it's had great responses. We were given a standing ovation at the annual benefit, people appraoching me with a look of something akin to fascination--"I didn't know it was going to be, like, a REAL documentary!"

Various church groups want us to film their missions efforts now. Honestly, I'm not drawn to that. HEART was a definitive mission for us, but chronicling churches in their endeavors is something I'd really rather not explore at this point in time...we'll see if God decides otherwise. smile.gif

Pee Ess: Jeffrey's seen it--I think he's gearing up to blast me in a critical review that will leave nothing but tatters...

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That's awesome, Jason!

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YAY!! BORTZ!!! This is fantastic!

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Way to go, Jason!

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Woohoo! Here too!

-----------

Edited by Jason Bortz

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Yeah, baby! cheers.gif

Congrats, Jason, super news.

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An update and a prayer request. One person who didn't get mentioned in this thread is a man named David Glenwinkel, who was most responsible for beginning this project. David helped fund the equipment we used, as well as finding ways of raising money for us to actually go to Kenya.

Since the time of the shooting of this film, David has left HEART (Health Education Africa Resource Teams), and expanded on what he was doing for them with another project called Village Care International. Since its formation, David has been tirelessly traveling to various African nations such as Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, etc., working with locals on self sufficient means to grow prosperous communities that no longer rely on outside international donations.

David usually posts updates from these various locations about every three or four months. There had been a lag with his most recent post, but this morning he finally let us know what was happening in his journeys...

David Glenwinkel

I returned from Nigeria and Sierra Leone a few weeks ago. Managed to get into two conflict areas where VIllage Care has work and also met (with) VCI leaders from six countries in the region. Felt pretty ill along the trip and upon returning home visited the Dr. Not realizing I have a new journey ahead. Here are the results so far.

Dear Friends,

Just a quick note for now to let you know I came home last night. Nobody will

drive me to work, but I had an office setup at home, so I am pretty good to

go.

Rather than a blow by blow. I just want you all to know that I came

through the surgery very well, there were a couple of bumps after that, as I

have some blood issues that caused a delay in the pain medications for a

couple of days. After replacing the aortic root with some radiator hose,

removing the the big vein that feeds the top of the heart at the "root" which

had expanded quite a bit, the doctors were able to repair rather than replace

the two damaged heart vales, so after a recovery period, there will be no

ongoing need for special meds.

My heart according those who have actually seen

it, is in very good shape otherwise, no cardiovascular issues at all. It is

looking like the problem goes back to some childhood disease that was never

diagnosed so it is not the kind of thing that is likely to recur. Great news,

because the whole thing really hurt and I don't want to do it again.

Looks like I have a few mountains to climb yet and as usual God has brought me safely home.

As you can see from his second sentence after "Dear Friends", David isn't one to rest on his laurels. He's already itching to get back to work. I'd like to offer prayers for a speedy and smart recovery, and hope that many of you will join in.

Thanks!

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John,

Thanks for posting. Will definitely keep David in prayer. He sounds like a warrior in so many ways and his continued service with projects like Village Care International is very needed.

Thom

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Here's a Facebook update from my friend David about his ongoing recovery. Very inspirational.

My day without a heartbeat;

The African national leaders of Village Care from 11 countries are meeting this year in Jos Nigeria. I couldn't make the trip because my heart quit for a day and it takes time to recover from that. I wrote them this letter instead. On December 5th my chest was sawed open and pried apart and my heart and lungs were stopped for seven hours. During that time I was placed on a machine that allowed my blood to bypass my heart while the surgeons cut into and rebuilt the left chambers, replacing the main aortic artery with an artificial prosthetic. There were major repairs instead of the expected replacement of two heart valves, a better long term result but a more complicated surgery and longer recovery. I awoke while on full life support, a breathing tube down my throat to supply air to my lungs and a machine to keep my heart beating. I was fully conscious and it was difficult to be still and not panic and allow the machines sustain my life. After a while I began to breathe on my own and eventually my heart began to beat without assistance. The next six days in intensive care were filled with pain and small steps toward recovery. For some time I could do nothing for myself, every act required some assistance. For an independent person it is a humbling experience, but also an opportunity to express in one’s attitude and actions a thankfulness and kindness for those who are helping you. My recovery will take several months. I still can’t drive a car, and it will be some time before I can fly on a plane again. When I returned from the hospital I could walk about 100 meters at best and now I am walking about four kilometers a day, and working my way up each day. I could only work an hour or so a day at first, but now am working a normal business day, the expectation was that I would be unable to work for two months, but I have learned the lesson many times that we can live with the expectations of others, or trust God and proceed step by step to greater things. Such times gives one a chance to ponder the past, and consider the future. We all need times of assessment and change. Whether we like it or not change is part of life. Every change carries with it an opportunity to have a good attitude, or to resist in fear and anger. Change can seem like an end, and it is, but change also always carries the potential for new opportunities at greater heights. Change, transformation, is what Village Care is about. I remember last year our theme was to shatter conformity, spark transformation in the manner described by Paul in Romans 12:2. I have been wondering what you might come up with this year as the key to our progress over the next 12 months. We are now significant as an organization, but I wonder, what will make us known to the whole world. I believe you have proven that we have the means to transform the community of the poor into a healthy force of power and empowerment as we travel into an unknown but much greater future. How will we accomplish global awareness? In my own small crisis of health, I had a chance to consider my future. I am happy to say that I did not fear death, trusting fully that I rest in life or death in the arms of our savior. I also confirmed in my heart that the work that I am doing is exactly what I desire to do. I work in my business so I can have the resources to work with Village Care. I want you all to know that I have you in my heart and prayers daily. What a great group God has brought together for this mighty mission.

God Bless, David Glenwinkel.

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