PBS Documentary Portrays the “Unique Model” of Solidarity Bridge Missions

This Thursday, June 7, 2018, all are invited to the premiere screening of our newest documentary film. Created for the PBS public television series Visionaries, this 30-minute documentary features the work of our General Surgery Program. Following a US surgical team on mission as well as our Bolivian partner surgeons who provide care year-round, this independently produced film portrays our model of working in solidarity, and the powerful results of our collaborative efforts. 

As we look forward to the premiere screening of the film, we also share this reflection, written by our executive director, Ann Rhomberg, who accompanied the film crew during their time in Bolivia in March 2017. 

OR interview for PBS

In early September, 2016, I received a phone call that would eventually magnify the reach of our work in Bolivia.  On that random fall day, public television producer Jody Santos announced that Solidarity Bridge had been selected to be featured in a 30-minute documentary. “The Solidarity Bridge mission model is unique, impactful, and effective," she said, "and I’d like to make your model better known to wider audiences. ” 

“Amen!” I thought. This could really magnify the great work of our organization and serve as a resource for all who undertake this type of mission work across national and cultural borders.   

The Solidarity Bridge mission model is unique, impactful, and effective, and I’d like to make your model better known to wider audiences.
— Jody Santos, Visionaries Producer

Six months later, I found myself in Bolivia with Jody and her film crew. This lean crew of three worked tirelessly to capture the many dimensions of our work including working with strong local partners, responding to needs identified by those most affected, and undertaking all of this work in a spirit of mutuality. Zooming in and zooming out, from dawn till dusk, filming took place in operating rooms, patient homes, medical supply warehouses, and even in our comings and goings at the airport.  

PBS Patient Interview

The high point for me was observing an interview with one of the patients from our general surgery program. Clementia, a 36-year-old single mother of a 10-year-old boy, invited us all into her home in a remote village approximately 80 miles from urban Cochabamba. Clementia suffered from painful gallstones and needed to have her gallbladder removed, but the surgery seemed unattainable. She only had access to small hospitals with limited surgical equipment, and the cost of surgery was prohibitive. Surgery would also extend recovery time that would challenge her ability to maintain her small farm and provide for her family. Were it not for the minimally invasive operation made possible through our mobile laparoscopic surgery campaign, Clementia may have continued to suffer with life-threatening consequences. Instead, she’s pictured here with a smile of gratitude. 

What an amazing experience the filming was for me, meeting various patients AND accompanying this film crew that will soon bring our story to scores more people in the United States.

I pray that this film will enable us to serve more communities in Bolivia through increased connections with US medical professionals, financial supporters, and donors of surgical supplies. When we join together in this work, we are all transformed by this ministry of healing and justice. 

Visionaries, Inc. is a television series produced for broadcast on PBS stations nationwide. Since 1995, they have highlighted the rarely-told stories of nonprofit organizations all over the world that are making a positive difference in their community and beyond. 

Join us for the premiere film screening, hosted by our friends at Presence Health. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Presence Saint Francis Hospital – Wolfe Auditorium

355 Ridge Ave | Evanston, IL
Free parking available in the hospital garage

4 PM - First Screening and Panel Discussion
5 PM - Wine and Cheese Reception
6 PM - 
Second Screening and Panel Discussion

Seating is limited at this FREE event. Please RSVP for your preferred screening time using the links above.