Back to the park

Today the unexpected happened: mother and baby were discharged from the hospital and returned home. Despite Sujeylin having been operated on only 24 hours ago and the baby being seriously underweight. Things are going quickly.

So, when arriving in the park (where this fragile family lives – under a tree) after a very bumpy local bus ride, we were welcomed by a crowd of glue-sniffing youngsters who were all interested in knowing the child, touching it, talking to Sujeylin, and making faces to the camera.

Sujeylin seemed to be very tired and suddenly escaped to the protection of the sidewalk, shielded by food stalls on one side and covered with a makeshift tin roof. There, Juan Carlos and her set up shop – bringing in a large cardboard sheet and a handful of blankets – with the idea of staying there for a while.


Note the tiny legs and little red socks next to Sujeylin.

On the left of this image (unseen) are the market stalls, on the right is the park seperated by a wooden fence. They cover the baby with blankets so that the many passersby’s don’t see it – if the “wrong” person sees it, it could be picked up by the Ministry of Family for its own protection. Juan Carlos is trying to convince his father to take mother and baby in, but his step-mother, with whom he has a very poor relationship, will probably veto the idea.

Tomorrow we’ll be shooting them in and around the park, and I will take Sujeylin to a place to do a sound interview. I do these regularly in order to construct the voice over of the film (see also the trailer).

Let there be no doubt about the mixed feelings with which I experience things. I feel so lucky to have found this family, for them allowing us into their lives and acting as if we’re not there when we’re shooting. They are an example to me in many ways, and help me realize what the important things are in life. On the flip side, I sometimes feel like a leach, an intruder, a sensationalist… It’s easy for anyone to simply help them – give them money so they can rent a room somehwere – but invariably I am more interested in their reality (being very honest now). In the grand scheme of things, the difference we can make is much greater if we get the material I am after – in order to denounce and change this reality for others. Helping Sujeylin and her baby , beyond the small daily gestures we are making, would deminish this objective.

An odd thing came to light today, related to this. I found out from one of the doctors that Sujeylin wasn’t simply “low” on amniotic fluid – by the time they extracted the baby she simply had none! In fact, her placenta had started to calcify. She would have never known this had we not taken her to do several ultrasounds (we did them simply to be able to plan the shooting dates) and had she not been the subject of this film, the baby might not have lived. Without wanting to pat ourselves on the back, I find this a very ironic fact. And somewhat comforting.

2 thoughts on “Back to the park

  1. Amazing that only 1 day after giving birth, and in fact with a seriously underweighted baby, these persons are released from the hospital. On the other hand, the hospital cannot be expected to take the ‘home situation’ of Sujeylin into account, but should do so with respect to the baby’s condition.
    I just wonder what would have happened in a Dutch, Spanish or other European hospital.

    What will happen in the coming days? Are there any facilities for checks on the baby’s health, or are they on their own from now on? Do they have a program with regular preventive injections and so on? I guess not and should be patient to see the anwers in your documentary!

    It is good that you are regularly asking yourself the questions that you mention in your update. You can argue about it in many ways but there is no doubt that the media are a very powerful tool to get a message across and to set something in motion although it will often be too long a process for the persons directly involved to benefit from it.

    Kindest regards from Madrid in Springtime


  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Frans. Don’t forget that the public health system in Nicaragua is both free and bankrupt. Poverty rules here, everywhere you look, except for a minority. And that poverty has a historical background very much tied into the succesful history of a few prominent western countries.


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