This initiative uses the medium of film to show how education, community efforts, advocacy, and support can transform lives. According to the producers, "The Seeds of Hope series explores HIV/AIDS issues in an engaging, culturally relevant, and heartfelt way, thus encouraging dialogue, communication, and action that is critical to stemming the further spread of HIV/AIDS. The series presents images that are rarely seen and voices that are almost never heard."
The films are designed to take viewers beyond the stereotypical images of HIV/AIDS in Africa by documenting moments in the day-to-day lives of people living with HIV; orphans being raised by an elder sibling or a grandparent; young people who use performance and poetry to educate their peers; sex workers who teach each other and their clients about condom use; professional caregivers and advocates who volunteer their time; and those who care for people in the late stages of HIV/AIDS. Each documentary presents people who are directly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Ethiopia. Organisers hope that sharing these images will inspire Ethiopians and others across the world to get involved in HIV/AIDS prevention, to act with greater compassion, and to take part in the struggle for social justice and human dignity. The documentaries include:
HIV/AIDS, Children, Gender.
"Since the Seeds of Hope project was initiated in early 2002, efforts to address and prevent HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia have blossomed. Many indigenous and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and neighborhood-level groups are working hard to educate Ethiopians of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds about how the virus spreads; about what measures they can take to protect themselves; and about how they can get involved in caring for those who are living with HIV/AIDS. Policymakers and grassroots activists are pushing for measures that will improve the status of women and girls, and associations of HIV positive individuals are taking a stand against stigma and discrimination. Ethiopian Television and independent organisations have produced public service announcements and radio programs that support all of these efforts."
The films aim to be part of the solution in the struggle against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Organisers comment that, "Whether in Ethiopia or in the US, accurate information and honest communication about sexuality are essential. This includes information to dispel the myths about HIV/AIDS that lead to fear of and discrimination against those living with or orphaned by the virus, and to a reluctance to get tested for the virus. It also includes a willingness to overcome deeply rooted cultural discomfort with discussions about sexual behavior."
“Talking openly about HIV transmission and about sex in general", they stress, "does not lead to promiscuity but rather to an ability to protect oneself and one's partner. Access to safe sex information and to condoms are fundamental human rights issues that must be factored into any conversation about the future not only of Ethiopians but also of people everywhere."
The Seeds of Hope films are short in length, and are broken into 5 distinct topic areas. The films are available as follows:
Email from Amy Hill to Soul Beat Africa October 25 2004; and email from Dorothy Fadiman to The Communication Initiative on August 15 2006.