Idol Chatter

With it comes to social issues, the news media tends to give stories a short shelf life, which is why documentaries–when done well–are a fantastic art form that continues to shine a light on tragedies that we be more comfortable with forgetting. Such is the case with a new documentary in limited release, “Angels In The Dust.”
It is an inspiring and surprisingly hopeful reminder that while the AIDS epidemic in places like South Africa rages on, there are people who are still committed to bringing hope and healing to the current and future generations of those touched by the disease.

The Cloete family left an affleuent lifestyle in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa to create a safe haven for those who have been oprhaned because of the AIDS epidemic. They feed, clothe, educate, and counsel children who have contracted the diease–in most cases because they or their mothers have been sexually assaulted by someone who is HIV positive. As the children learn to trust the Coetes, they find the strength to fight the disease and believe their illness doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
At the heart of this story tirelessly is Marion Coete, a trained therapist who is an inspiring mix of compassion, righteous anger, and courage, as she tirelessly and fearlessly uses any and all means at her disposal to save these children. One minute she is fighing with a parent who refuses to take her child to a hospital, and in another moment she is comforting a child who has been raped, though her mother refuses to acknowledge this fact.
For all of the tragedy, this film is surprisingly upbeat and is never more hopeful than when it documents a field trip the children take to see some elephants. These particular elephants have been orphaned as well and therefore have never socialized properly. The lack of socialization causes them to behave violently, but they are eventually retrained with patience and love and their behavior is modified. The connection is clear: This is what also needs to happen with these and other children if they are to break the cycle of violence in South Africa.
“Angels In the Dust” is a worthwhile documentary whose main mesage is that some solutions to the suffering of life are actually pretty simple–even if they are not easy. And the children in “Angels” are living proof we can all be an angel to someone if we are willing to make the sacrifice.

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