Chris Carpenter offers a heartfelt portrait of the effects of decades of privation and violence on the lives of three young people living in Goma, in the eastern reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo, hard against Rwanda: Gisele, pregnant with her first child at age 15; Isaac, born with HIV, now cachectic and barely alive; and Dieume, seeking to turn his life around after a brush with death. Their stories, rendered in unflinching images, reveal the daily indignities and courageous struggle to live in a setting riven by war and by poverty.

Paul Farmer
Founding Director of Partners in Health

There is a self-perpetuating cycle between war, poverty, and hopelessness. Born in Goma opens with the images of war that we have all seen, and then goes on to show what television seldom tries to convey: the people’s day-to-day struggles with poverty and hopelessness. “I was inspired,” says filmmaker and pediatrician Chris Carpenter, “by their incredible will to survive.”

Fifteen year-old Giselle—already caring alone for eight younger brothers and sisters—struggles with shame after being raped, and her baby struggles to draw his first breath. Twelve year-old Isaac is dying of AIDS; his mother cannot bring herself to tell him, and he cannot understand, what is happening to him. Dieume, shot in a failed holdup attempt, says he has only himself to blame: “When you hang out with bad friends, you become bad yourself.”

But Carpenter gains a sense of hope from hanging out with his patients—fighting for their survival as intensely as they are—and he passes that hope on to us in their stories. Giselle and her family “may never escape poverty, but they have another chance to keep fighting for a better life.” Isaac may have begun to understand what was happening, though his mother did not, in the long, lonely night before he died.

And after watching Dieume undergo a religious conversion and struggle with the renewed temptation of drugs and easy money, Carpenter says, “I never believed he was a bad person. After we patched him up, he really wanted a new life. I may never know where he ends up. But that is why we need to continue working; we can give a struggling community one more chance at a good life.”

And another, and another; it’s going to be a long struggle.

Margaret Wilde
Professor of Theology
School of Adult and Continuing Education Barry University
Miami, Florida

This wonderful film by Chris Carpenter brings us to the heart of Goma. We are at the bedside, in the homes, in the streets. Through the artistry of the documentary we are part of a world that longs for more kindness and a few simple things. Carpenter’s film gives a way forward for Goma and for the next steps in global understanding and human friendship.

Judith Palfrey
Director, Global Pediatrics Program
Children’s Hospital, Boston
T. Berry Brazelton Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School

Learning about issues affecting the developing world can be overwhelming for high school students. Teaching about weighty topics like malnutrition, AIDS, rape, and gang violence can be daunting. It can be difficult for a teenager living in an America to make sense of statistics like “1 in 5 women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a victim of rape” or “over a half million children under age five suffer from acute malnutrition in the D.R.C.”.

Gisele, Dieume, and Isaac translate these statistics into people. Though they live thousands of miles of away and were born into very different circumstances, my students were able to gain valuable perspectives on the struggles faced by young people in the developing world through a glimpse at their lives. “Born in Goma” opened my students’ minds to the complex issues faced by young people, not very different from themselves. My students developed a profound sense of empathy for those living in poverty, as well as a new-found curiosity to develop a better understanding of the underlying political, economic, and social factors contributing to the harsh reality of those born in Goma.

While the film was very emotional for many students, it not only gave them new insights, but also left them feeling empowered by their ability to make a difference by drawing upon the example set by Dr. Carpenter. Chris’s personal journey, from an American teenager alarmed with the images he saw of the Rwandan genocide, to a pediatrician travelling to Africa to make a difference, serves as an inspiration and a powerful role model for young people eager to make a difference in the world.

Jennifer Rodgers
Government, International Relations, and Global Social Issues teacher
Dominion High School
Sterling, Virginia

Born in Goma gives a human reality to the challenges for the poorest developing countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo. It illustrates the difficulty by focusing on one local hospital and one international doctor in delivering health care to three children in life-threatening need.

For development out of poverty, the outsider can offer technical training, hands-on assistance, determination, enthusiasm and a caring attitude, all of them helpful. Continuing progress will depend on recognizing and encouraging these characteristics in the local and national community of hard-working health care workers, and in the courageous Congolese people they serve.

In viewing this film be prepared for a highly emotional and involving experience.

Ted Wilde
Retired Community Development Worker and Consultant to Governments,
Church Programs, and Indigenous Organizations

As a high school junior I understood that other countries were struggling, but I never understood how bad it was. The documentary not only touched me and brought tears to my eyes and those of my classmates, it also made me eager to learn more about what I could do make a difference.

Brieanna Clay
Junior, Dominion High School
Sterling, Virginia

It was a truly moving and heartwarming documentary. It is amazing how Isaac, Dieume and Gisele’s stories were brought to life. The characters became more than just statistics, they were real people andI was humbled by each and every one of their stories.

In Born in Goma, the director, Chris Carpenter, makes a strong case–logical, factual and very emotional–for why we should all be contributing more to the world’s impoverished. In addition, I felt personally challenged to find a way to do my part in empowering those that are less fortunate than we are.

Dieume’s story taught us the importance of starting over. Even with the challenges he faced, giving up was not an option for him. Leaving all that he knew behind in pursuit of a different life is inspiring.

Isaac’s fight can only be described as one of the most valiant, steel-hearted, and protracted battle against both his HIV and the toxicities of its treatment that I have ever seen. For such a tiny, young person, he endured much with a very fragile and weakened body, but always seemed to prevail; and he did so because his spirit seemed as if it was so much stronger, so much more powerful, than the flesh and bones that gave it shelter. Through it all, I think he showed endless courage and just-as-endless fortitude.

Gisele’s story was inspiring as well. To be given such enormous responsibilities at such an early age is overwhelming at best. To add a pregnancy seems to be far beyond what any one person could endure. However, throughout the documentary, it did not seem as if she pitied herself or her situation. She fought an incredibly brave battle, in her quiet, kind and graceful way. She reminded me of a flower in the great tempest that is her life. I wondered often how it was that she was not blown away. But like a flower she would only bow to withstand the storms. She endured much with all that was thrown her way, but always, she prevailed. With her endurance and perseverance, I know that no storm to come could ever conquer her grace. The real Gisele will always be so much more than the life she was given.

Overall, “Born in Goma” will challenge all who have the honor of seeing it, as it challenged me, to constantly strive to be better people.

Michele Sainvil
Viewer at the Beverly Film Festival

close window

Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

6654 Main Street
Wonderland, AK 45202
(513) 555-7856