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Follow the journey through rural Mexico that thousands of people take in search of relief from intolerable pain.
Follow the journey through rural Mexico that thousands of people take in search of relief from intolerable pain.
236 backers pledged $25,804 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$25,804

236

This is our project:

Imagine you are experiencing the worst pain of your life. Now imagine that the only way to get the pain medication you need is to travel several hours on a rickety public bus, while you are in agony.

That’s the reality for thousands of people every year in Mexico. But this suffering is unnecessary – and our video will help create momentum for change. 

© 2010 Brent Foster for Human Rights Watch
© 2010 Brent Foster for Human Rights Watch

Here’s the background on the issue: 

Because of restrictive drug laws, it is incredibly complicated to obtain pain medicines like morphine in Mexico. Outside of the major cities there are almost no doctors that prescribe them or pharmacies where patients can fill prescriptions for these pain killers. As a result, thousands of people who are dying of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS often cannot get access to essential pain relief. 

Morphine is cheap, effective, and endorsed by the World Health Organization as an essential medicine. Yet it remains unavailable to so many people in Mexico who desperately need it.

We'd like to bring this issue to life for audiences in Mexico and around the world. We want to show you the faces and stories of the people who endure this needless suffering. We want our video to take you inside the lives of their families, introduce you to their doctors, and present the activists who are trying to change the law in Mexico.

The plan for making the video: 

Diederik Lohman, a senior researcher from the Health and Human Rights division at Human Rights Watch, has already identified the people we need to interview: doctors at a leading cancer institute in Mexico City and at hospitals in Guadalajara; patients and their families; activists such as the breast cancer group Tomatelo a Pecho. We plan to follow one patient on his or her trip to the capital, to show how terrible and arduous it is. 

© 2010 Brent Foster for Human Rights Watch
© 2010 Brent Foster for Human Rights Watch

The plan for distribution: 

We will make a 5-8 minute video to be distributed via our YouTube channel; via our partners such as Upworthy.com; and through mainstream media who frequently broadcast and embed Human Rights Watch footage. We’ll also distribute it widely in Mexico, which is where it needs to be seen most. 

Why we’re capable of doing this:

We haven't shot any footage in Mexico yet, and we won't be able to do so until we raise the money on Kickstarter. But we have made this video about pain relief in India:

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It contributed to a campaign that changed the law on pain medications in India, potentially ending the suffering of tens of millions of people.

We also made videos about the issue of pain relief in Senegal and Kenya.

The multimedia department at Human Rights Watch makes dozens of videos every year. We’re lucky to work with some of the best photographers and videographers in the world. We even won a Peabody award for two of our multimedia features. 

Diederik Lohman has been working on this issue for years and will collaborate closely with the videographer on the ground. 

Where your contribution will go: 

The funds will support only the video. We must pay the filmmaker for his or her time, plus the travel and other expenses. We have to send Diederik to accompany the filmmaker and introduce his key contacts. And then, of course, the piece must be edited back in New York, translated into Spanish and possibly other languages, and then distributed globally. 

The multimedia program at Human Rights Watch is supported by several major donors. But this year, there was so much demand for our work that we no longer have the funds needed to make this important video. Please help! This is one video that really, definitely can make a difference.

© 2013 Nick Loomis for Human Rights Watch
© 2013 Nick Loomis for Human Rights Watch

What we’ll do if we exceed our goal:

Make a video about Armenia, which has similar issues with access to palliative care.

Risks and challenges

Operating in Mexico can be risky. Human Rights Watch has extensive experience working in dangerous places, and applies stringent security protocols when doing so to ensure the safety of our team and the people we will interview. Terminal illness can also be a taboo topic that not everyone is comfortable speaking about in front of a camera. Identifying people who are willing to share their stories may present a challenge.

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    Personal thank you on Human Rights Watch's Facebook page

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    E-TEAM posters autographed by the directors and producer of the film, as well as all four members of Human Rights Watch's E-TEAM and members of the crew. A valuable collectors' item!

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    Credit at the end of the video that we will produce

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    Two tickets to a screening at one of Human Rights Watch's film festivals: https://ff.hrw.org/

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    Lunch with Diederik Lohman, senior researcher in the Health and Human Rights Division, in New York (or other major city, if available).

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    Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth will record the message on your voicemail.

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Funding period

- (30 days)