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July 14th, 2009
Birth of a Surgeon
Video: How Viewers Made A Difference

Update from the filmmakers, Karin Falck and Loui Bernal: After the 2008 broadcast of Birth of a Surgeon, many viewers asked us how they could help the Rural Hospital of Manjacaze where Emilia does her final internship in the film. We wanted to try to replace the faulty diesel generator the hospital relied on during electricity blackouts. But a new generator would be prohibitively expensive, so we chose to purchase and install a battery backup that would last for one hour in the operating room.

Viewers donated $2,000 which we deposited in a bank account we set up with the grassroots organization, Africa Groups of Sweden. Then in April 2009 we received an additional $2,000 when we won the Overseas Press Club’s Carl Spielvogel Award. When we went back to film WIDE ANGLE’s follow-up interview with Emilia, we decided that would be the perfect time to fix the generator. Loui wrote letters to several generator manufacturers and asked them to contribute to the project. A South African company, Plan My Power, responded and gave us a battery charger and batteries for below retail price!

The hospital’s electrician installed the battery with help from our friend, Sven Grip. A local man built a cage to safeguard the installation. Now if there is a power failure during an operation, the hospital workers have one hour to finish. We thank you all for your wonderful engagement in the film and the reality behind it.

Click on the video below to see the installation.

  • Jeane Cooper

    Hello, if one wants to send any more donations, do you have any info on how to reach the Mrs. Cumbane, or the place where she works?
    Thank you.

  • Cilla Johnson

    Is there a way that viewers could help another rural hospital in Mozambique where one of the other graduate midwives might be serving?

  • anne humphrey

    If we wanted to send surgical gloves directly to the hospital, where would we send them?

  • adeeba deterville

    I would like to make a donation… how & where would I send it?

  • Edna Armstrong

    We need an address to send supplies to help Emilia and others like her! How can we make this happen? Also, I find it insufficient that a generator could not be bought for them … we can do this! There is a time for everything and this recession time is the time to be generous.
    Afrikagrupperna seems a little too political and it makes me nervous. I am sure there has to be another group purely humanitarian to send supplies through that can keep a record of what is being done. If this is or is not the case please let us know.

  • Patty Bowen

    I would like to send some supplies that are very much in need.
    I would also like to get info on being able to assist them in any other way.

  • Renee

    Please also see the this link to a short list of some of the organizations that work to support maternal health programs in Sub-Saharan Africa that compliment Mozambique’s training program featured in Birth of a Surgeon.

  • Felicia W

    Watched the show for the first time last night. I would love to donate some monies for supplies. Those midwives are doing wonderful work.

  • Roy Tomlinson

    Emilia captured my heart. Wide angle is doing what other institutions cannot do in a world craving basic information on the plight of communities of people worldwide. Thank you.

  • Sandra

    I enjoyed the special on Birth Of A Surgeon that featured Emilia. Emilia and the other midwives deserve to be proud of the work they are doing. I was very moved by the show and I am proud of them. Please let me know how I can support their efforts financially or otherwise.

  • Debra

    Emilia and the doctor she is working under are amazing people. I would like to help in some way. Would you please send me information regarding any funds that may have been set up for this hospital or Emilia’s family.

  • TAMI


  • Dr. C.D. Mazoff

    I would gladly donate to the Hospital in question. I am leery of middle organisation. I would like my complete donation to be used for the Midwife program or for a new generator. Can you please let me know how to go about this? I already help with SOS Villagtes and Doctor’s w/o borders

    Thanks.. CD

  • Jo Ann

    I was so glad to read that a generator was donated!! This seems so simple to us – if we had a list of these type of needs, I bet we could get it taken care of!! We just need to be more away. Thank you! And I wish all those women much success.

  • karen

    I also wanted to know how to donate to Emilia and their cause without middle-man organizations. Is there an address for Emilia? Thank you

  • Meg Wirth

    We are going to try to map all the small hospitals and clinics around the world who are doing the kind of inspiring work done in Mozambique.

  • Jessica

    This is a very inspirational show and I wish that there was a way to help these people out. We live in a very privilidged society and it is very noticable in videos such as this. God bless these people and thier families!

  • C. Bedard

    I wrote a similar post following another amazing Wide Angle documentary that inspired so many of us to offer follow up financial help. My message is that 20 years of learning from international development work has taught me the hard lesson that sending money directly to people in poor countries may make us feel efficient in our helping efforts, but it generally creates more problems in the end. This is because when one person received funds directly from a generous foreign donors, it creates an immediate imbalance in the community. It creates jealousy and envy, which can lead to the person we’re trying help becoming ostracized and/or even more solicited herself to take care of extended family and neighbors. People like Emilia need SUPPORT, but not this kind of extra pressure that a “direct” foreign funder creates, unfortunately. I understand completely the hesitation of sending money to a “middle man”, but I know from experience that there ARE good grassroots organizations and you need to do some research to identify a good one in the community, fund that organization, and make your requests for specific help to a specific rural hospital through that grassroots organization. That is, in truth, the most loving and respectful way of helping third world countries. Not through government, not “directly” to a poor person. Through a respected grassroots organization. They will be happy to give you reports on how your money helped those you requested they help. I say follow your heart, but act from your intellect too. It’s the best way.

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