Welcome to the World, Tonight on Why Poverty?

By Brian Hill
Director of Welcome to the World

130 million babies are born each year, and not one of them decides where they’ll be born or how they’ll live. Welcome to the World premieres tonight as part of the Why Poverty? series special on Global Voices.

Apart from those in the medical profession, there can’t be many men in the world who have seen as many babies born as I did this year. It all started when I was invited to make one of the films for the Why Poverty? season, a global initiative posing important questions about poverty and inequality.

I wanted to start at the beginning, at the birth of a child, to see how poverty might impact the life of an infant, and how we might then imagine how that life would turn out. Once you decide to start right there, at the moment of birth, you are necessarily involved in questions of infant mortality — the chances a child has of survival. And infant mortality goes hand in hand with maternal mortality. You can’t talk about one without the other.

I decided early on that there was no point in trying to make a subtle film or to take a sideways look at a serious issue.  The fact is that women and children who are poor die in greater numbers from preventable causes than those who are not poor. Poverty kills people. I decided to film in three different countries: Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and the USA. Sierra Leone has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Ditto for maternal mortality. Cambodia is pretty bad but improving. The USA, despite being the richest country on earth, has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the developed world. What does this tell us? It tells us that there is poverty in the United States and that there is a great deal of inequality.

The making of this film brought home to me very vividly that when we talk about poverty we shouldn’t accept it as an inescapable and fixed fact of life.  There is enough money to go around, and there are enough resources to ensure that every woman should be able to give birth in a safe and clean environment, attended by skilled health professionals. If the film makes viewers angry about the state of the world, that would be just great by me.

Welcome to the World premieres tonight as part of the Why Poverty? series special on Global Voices, click here for broadcast listings.