Seeds of Hope is a series of 5 documentary films that weaves together stories about efforts in Ethiopia in an effort to break the silence around HIV/AIDS, to encourage innovative approaches to prevention, and to address the surrounding stigma. In the series, HIV-positive activists, family members, neighbours, medical personnel, humanitarian groups, and health care professionals provide support and care, and advocate for broad-based prevention. The films aim to convey a message of empowerment and hope. Each film is in Amharic, with English subtitles and narration. The films were produced in collaboration with more than 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and grassroots groups in Ethiopia and edited in partnership with Ethiopians living in the USA. They are produced by Concentric Media, a nonprofit organisation.
Communication Strategies: 

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:

  • Breaking the Silence: Lifting the Stigma of HIV/AIDS: . details the stories of HIV-positive people and profiles groups that provide counselling, income support, community outreach, and prevention education.
  • Risk to Action: Women & HIV/AIDS:profiles the connection between gender and HIV/AIDS and the promising work of leaders in education and policy change to improve the status of women.
  • HIV/AIDS Awareness in Ethiopia: Approaches to Prevention:explores the work of Ethiopians committed to preventing the further spread of HIV and promoting greater respect and compassion for those living with the virus.
  • Stepping Forward: Men & HIV/AIDS: documents outreach and prevention efforts by and for men of all ages, from all walks of life.
  • Whose Children Are They Now?: AIDS Orphans in Ethiopia:explores the stories of groups and individuals that step forward to raise HIV/AIDS orphans, including traditional orphanages, family members, and neighbours, and the young people for whom they are caring.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Children, Gender.

Key Points: 

"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:

  1. online, where they may be watched in streaming video or downloaded for free:

    • Click here to access "Breaking the Silence: Lifting the Stigma of HIV/AIDS"
    • Click here to access "Risk to Action: Women & HIV/AIDS"
    • Click here to access "HIV/AIDS Awareness in Ethiopia: Approaches to Prevention
    • Click here to access "Stepping Forward: Men & HIV/AIDS"
    • Click here to access "Whose Children Are They Now?: AIDS Orphans in Ethiopia"

  2. on a 2-volume VHS set featuring the Amharic version of the films, in PAL format. The first tape includes "Breaking the Silence: Lifting the Stigma of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia" and "HIV/AIDS Awareness in Ethiopia: Approaches to Prevention", as these two films set the overall context for care and prevention. The remaining 3 films focus on women, men, and orphans, respectively, and are grouped on the second tape, as they focus on the challenges and successes of specific groups.Click here for ordering information in Ethiopia.
  3. on a single compilation, 2-hour DVD. One free preview is being offered; it is also possible to purchase one or more copies (price varies by quantity). Click here for full ordering details.


Email from Amy Hill to Soul Beat Africa October 25 2004; and email from Dorothy Fadiman to The Communication Initiative on August 15 2006.