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Villanova University Social Justice Documentary Showcases Ethiopian Women Who Defy the Odds

Villanova, Pa – “Where a woman lives should not determine if she lives,” says Leslie Manuso, PhD, RN, FAAN, in the new Villanova student-produced documentary “Carrying Tomorrow.” Dr. Manuso is president and CEO of Jhpiego, an international, nonprofit health organization dedicated to improving the health of women and families by implementing programs and partnerships in places like Dangila Hospital in Ethiopia. Villanova student filmmakers learned about the Dangila Hospital and Jhpeigo partnership—as well as the dangerously high maternal mortality rates in the region—after traveling to Ethiopia as part of Villanova’s Social Justice Documentary course in fall 2018. “Carrying Tomorrow” premieres April 26, 2019 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m.

The film aims to share the hopes and hardships of expecting mothers in rural Ethiopia who are facing barriers to safe, accessible surgical care and portrays a community of health workers joining together to challenge this issue. It is produced by Caged Bird Films, which comprises student-filmmakers and faculty moderator Hezekiah Lewis, MFA, assistant professor of Communication.

“My favorite part about working on the documentary was spending time with the mothers in the community and the staff at the Dangila Hospital and trying to capture their stories in an authentic way,” says co-director, Sarah Davis ’19 CLAS.

As Communication student-scholars, this authentic storytelling is not only essential to the success of their work but also to driving social change. The documentary aims to draw attention to an important issue—access to quality healthcare.

“I hope that people watch ‘Carrying Tomorrow’ and take seriously the issue of quality healthcare and access to safe surgery. While it affects over five billion people worldwide, women in the United States, especially black women, are also significantly affected by problems relating to surgery and quality care,” says Sarah. “It is an issue around the world, and I hope that people are driven to learn more.”

The Social Justice Documentary program is funded by Villanova’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society and the Nord Family Foundation. Each year, the students in the program create their own production companies and their films have screened across the globe—some advancing as far as finalists in the Student Academy Award competition.

Screening Information

“Carrying Tomorrow” screens on April 26, 2019 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Preceding the film is an expert panel discussion on birth equity and safe surgery. Tickets can be purchased here.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.