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Student-produced documentary about Uganda premieres

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March 30, 2010

A student-produced documentary, Essubi: Growing Up With Hope, makes its premiere at two venues at the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, and Saint John's University, Collegeville.

The documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8 at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU, and at 7 p.m. Monday, April 12 at Alumnae Hall, Haehn Campus Center, CSB. A member of SUNplug'd will play traditional African music at both events, which are free and open to the public.

It is the third documentary in as many years produced by Extending the Link, a non-profit, student-run venture through CSB and SJU. Previous student-produced documentaries were on free-trade coffee in Guatemala, and micro-lending in Chile.

Essubi: Growing Up With Hope is about child-headed households in Uganda, a country in eastern Africa. Essubi means "hope" in Luganda, which is a tribal language of the country.

In Uganda, 50 percent of the population is under the age of 15. According to the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Policy, 14 percent of Uganda's child population was orphaned in 2003 (almost one million children) due to poverty and disease. Armed with little education and few survival skills, youth as young as 12 years old are left to provide for their entire families.

Extending the Link partnered with the Uganda Rural Fund (URF), a non-profit organization that is working to combat this issue through its primary and secondary school, Hope Integrated Academy in Maska, Uganda, to improve the lives of these children. URF was co-founded by Br. John Mary Lugemwa, OSB, a member of Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey in Richmond, Va., who graduated from SJU in 2007 and who resided at Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville.

The documentary follows the lives of these "child parents" and examines the day-to-day challenges they face. It also examines the work of Hope Academy, which gives students a second chance at an education.

Six CSB and SJU students spent three weeks in January in Uganda filming the documentary and doing research - Catherine Hansen (senior, biology major, Marshall, Minn.); Breanna Auringer (senior, communication major, Mantorville, Minn.); Nathan Meyer (junior, individualized major in film production, Springville, Iowa); Emily Bina (junior, communication major, New Brighton, Minn.); Tim Bungum (junior, communication major, Sargeant, Minn.); and Tom Hoffman (junior, economics major, Mahtomedi, Minn.). In addition, Emily Masters (junior, management major, Centennial, Colo.) and Keenan Brugh (junior, economics major, Omaha, Neb.) provided support when most of the group returned to Minnesota (Bina, Bungum and Hoffman are currently on study abroad trips).

The finished documentary will be just over 20 minutes long. The goals of the filmmakers are to educate the public about the URF and inspire action through support of the organization. All donations made at either premiere will benefit a teacher's salary at Hope Academy.

To see a trailer of the documentary, go here.