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South African miners sacked for catching TB

17 September 2011, 20:33

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by Robert Walgate

A new film on TB on South African miners, and neglect of their plight by the mining industry, by scientist and film-maker Jonathan Smith, will break hearts.

It will also raise the profile of the profound problem the miners face when they are simply dismissed for being sick, and sent home to die without treatment.

Research was not enough for Jonathan, who decided he had to act – so he produced this moving, intimate biography of four affected miners and their families.

The film is due for release at a crucial meeting in October 2011. It needs a little funding to complete. If you can help, or know someone else who can, please contribute. The trailer website also contains the appeal.

According to the website, funding from the campaign will go towards completing the rough-cut version of the film “and allow us most urgently to screen the film at an important meeting of decision makers and mining sector CEOs in Africa on TB and Mining later this year. We will be able to show the decision makers the real human face of their health decisions”.

“But we can’t do it unless our goal is reached”, the appeal says.

Jonathan Smith introduces himself: “This has been my entire life for almost two years. Up until now I was always in a lab, quietly researching things like cell signaling pathways and genetic expression.”

“My name is Jonathan Smith, I graduated with a Masters from Yale University where I researched TB and HIV coinfection in the gold mining industry of South Africa. Now I live out of my car, exhausted my entire life savings, and worked two part time jobs to fund the production of a film focusing on four mineworkers who graciously allowed me to live with them and their families for several weeks.”

“And now… we need your help in finishing the film. And we need it quick: a meeting bringing together the heads of the South African mining industries, government ministries, and unions is happening in late 2011 and we have the opportunity to show these personal stories to those who need to see it most: the decision makers.”

LOOK AT THE FILM TRAILER: They go to die: a TB/HIV and human rights film

These men were my friends” writes Smith. “With open arms they invited me into their families and lives to understand them as people, not patients. They died of a preventable, curable disease because of a cycle of disease that continues to permeate through all of southern Africa. The goal of this film is to stop that cycle.”

So please help Jonathan finish and present the film to the people who need to be told.

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