The women: Mary Helena (Racine, Wisconsin), Kathy (Santa Rosa, CA), Anne (San Francisco, CA), Barbara (Dixon, CA), Lauren (Oakland, CA), Debbi (Windsor, CA)
The death of a child is never easy and never bearable. Whether it's by sickness or by accident, a parent doesn't foresee their child dying before them. Through time, the healing process begins. In Jennifer Steinman's documentary, 'Motherland,' she shares the stories of six women, each who has lost a child and have taken a 17-day trip to South Africa to comfort the children of those who died of AIDS and other diseases. It's a story that's uplifting, heartfelt and poignant.
In traveling to Oudtshoorn, South Africa, we meet Kathy, Debbi, Barbara and Lauren, Anne, and Mary Helena as they come to help the orphans whose parents have died of AIDS or other diseases. As each of the women comment on how wonderful it is for them to be of assistant, we get a glimpse as their own sadden tale. Debbie lost her son Garrett to drunk driver, while Anne lost her daughter Grace to suicide without ever knowing a reason. Although she works in a hospital emergency room, Kelly wasn't on duty when her son Mike died of a motorcycle accident. The youngest of the women, Lauren, is not a mother, but there to represent her mother. Lauren's brother Aaron died of a gang-related incident, while Barbara's son Jason died in a car crash. The most compelling story of the women comes from African American Mary Helena, who not only lost her son Teveston in a homicide, but suffered a stroke afterwards.
As the women share their pain, we can see that some are working through it while others are still grieving. The trip to Africa is bringing the women a bit of comfort in that they are now able to help the less fortunate who are not in a position to get the help when death knocks on a parent's door. The volunteer work at an over-crowded day care and the activities they do with the children and teens bring them together.
'Motherland' is an honest and intimate look at emotional pain. Tears are forthcoming, but in a country far away from home, the women form a sisterhood to heal themselves and find a way of coping with grief