Live blog, TEDxColumbus

Janet Parrot – Live Blog

2011 TEDxColumbus

“Stones skipping across the surface of a very complex issue.” These were Janet Parrot’s words about her documentary, a documentary covering palliative care in South Africa for individuals with HIV/AIDS. The film is about how the daily hard work of dedicated individuals fosters a system of community support and comprehensive care for ill parents and their children that is not – yet – mirrored by hospice care in our country.

Scenes from her film, which peppered this TED talk, were moments in time, a time when people are finding creative answers to problems, and a time when Janet discovered that teachers can be everywhere and that we need to pay attention. The hospice Janet documents is a hospice that’s working in and throughout the community to better the lives of patients and families.

Though South Africa is one of the wealthiest countries on the continent, it is also home to great inequalities, including one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Women working in the hospice system Janet documented worked specifically with children whose parents were afflicted with HIV or dying from AIDS. “If we can show these children that there is care, that there is love,” spoke one featured caregiver, “then we are not bringing up a lost generation.”

Indeed, the women and men of the hospice care system in the villages Janet visited focused on the message that ‘there is something good.’ In addition to helping with groceries and day care, they worked to offer the sons and daughters ways to cope with the deeply personal impact of HIV they were experiencing.

Upon viewing Janet’s film, a consulate general gave her a pin – a merging of the American flag and the South African flag – and said something that at first Janet didn’t understand. Upon translation, she was told “your movie shows humanity to others.” Closing her talk with Mandela’s statement that “I am what I am because of who we all are,” Janet encouraged the TED audience to pay attention to what can be seen in those brief moments where stones skip across the surface. “I had to document this trip. I had to document what I saw,” she said. We’re listening, and we’re watching.