When Scott Fifer travelled volunteer at a home for street children in Tanzania, he had no idea he would fall in love there.
The Californian TV writer spent a month in the town of Moshi at the foot of the snow capped Mount Kilimanjaro with the children of Tunahaki. The picturesque Tanzanian landscape makes for amazing cinematography and the use of beautifully captured still images captures the childrens’ innocence wonderfully.
In his feature length documentary Fifer shows us why these children made an indelible mark on him. Amidst the poverty of the home, the children find joy in acrobatics taught by the founder of the home David. This along with his profound experience with them sees his life consumed by Tunahaki as he spends the next few months painstakingly raising funds and support to bring them to America.
From the green plains of Tanzania, with patches of deep amber soil, to the bustling streets of US, the juxtaposition of his and their lives, of Africa and America makes for a moving tale of humanity.
“Nice to see that children are children everywhere in the world”, this is the sentiment of one of those who see them perform.
This is a personal story for both Fifer and the children but at some point I feel that Fifer focuses too much on himself and his contribution to changing these children’s lives. Albeit true, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth to watch yet another American taking credit for single handedly changing the lives of African children. He does not reach a point where he is condescending but they are like a novelty as he parades them to perform in animal print outfits.
There is no doubt that Fifer’s intention is altruistic and he genuinely cares for these children and his desire to help them is true. But this film rings too true to the narrow minded perception of Africa (the country or place and not the continent) and African’s by the Western world.
Politics aside, it is a heart warming film that shows the resilience of people despite their circumstances.