It Takes A Village, a new TV drama shining a light on the plight of women and maternal health in Papua New Guinea, will make its debut on Australian national television on Monday 8 March, International Women’s Day.
In PNG, two women and 20 newborns die for every 1000 births. This is the highest rate in the Western Pacific Region and one of the highest in the world.
It Takes A Village tells the gripping story of rising PNG rugby league star, Rex, and his wife, Miriam, who are expecting their third child on a perfectly normal day in their PNG village. The delivery goes well, but Miriam suffers birth complications and becomes critically ill.
“Working on this film in a key role to address the Pacific’s highest maternal death rate problem, well one of the many problems really got under my skin,” Said Maureen Orea, of Port Moresby, who plays the key role of Miriam.
“The reviews I get are so heart warming, as I hear husbands tell me and I quote I ‘shed tears’ and ‘it’s a very critical message you portrayed.”
The show is based on the real-life experiences of Australian flying doctor, Dr Barry Kirby AO, founder of The Hands of Rescue Foundation, who has dedicated his medical career to helping raise awareness of the importance of maternal health in Papua New Guinea.
“We need to educate men in this country about the fact that giving birth is dangerous,” Dr Barry said.
“I want to empower PNG men to make the right decisions when it comes to the most vulnerable time in a woman’s life. You can’t walk away from this. People are dying, and we can help.”
Filmed at the historic Milne Bay province, it features an all-Papuan cast, apart from Dr Barry who plays himself. Helmed by rising PNG actors Brady Skate and Maureen Orea, in the lead roles of Rex and Miriam. Dr Barry’s famous Beaver seaplane features, flying across the epic landscapes.
Michael Fardell, the show’s director said, “I have a love for PNG, and after meeting Dr Barry, we knew drama could draw attention to the maternal health risks faced by PNG women every day.”
“It’s encouraging to see the overwhelming response to the show in PNG. The WHO conducted research after the screening which found that men are receiving the key messages, and understanding the role they can play in assisting their wives to safely deliver their babies. The show is entertainment, but it’s also having an impact on attitudes,” Michael said.
“I feel and continue to witness the traditional norms women in PNG have to bear and go through even in the urban areas of PNG because it is simply taboo for the men to even know what or how we women go through especially with childbirth,” Maureen said.
It Takes A Village, which makes its Australian television premiere on International Women’s Day, Monday 8 March 2021 on NITV at 9:20pm AEDST and will be available on SBS On Demand.