Taking Away the Distance

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Overview

In this emotional story of hope and inspiration, an African boy, orphaned by AIDS becomes a catalyst for AIDS orphans worldwide. Living in a shantytown in Kenya, Kevin Sumba's life was one of loneliness and hardship. Yet he was determined to get an education. Miles Roston, a documentary filmmaker, first met Kevin while making a film on AIDS orphans. He found that this particular boy touched his heart in a way he hadn't anticipated. Together, they set out to answer "Kevin's Questions" about the AIDS epidemic and ...

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Taking Away the Distance: A Young Orphan's Journey and the AIDS Epidemic in Africa Crusade to Unite Children Orphaned by the E

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Overview

In this emotional story of hope and inspiration, an African boy, orphaned by AIDS becomes a catalyst for AIDS orphans worldwide. Living in a shantytown in Kenya, Kevin Sumba's life was one of loneliness and hardship. Yet he was determined to get an education. Miles Roston, a documentary filmmaker, first met Kevin while making a film on AIDS orphans. He found that this particular boy touched his heart in a way he hadn't anticipated. Together, they set out to answer "Kevin's Questions" about the AIDS epidemic and more specifically, Kevin's situation. Taking Away the Distance takes us on a singular journey, as powerful policymakers and those working at a grassroots level deal with the direct, and at times confronting, questions of one boy. Along the way, we also meet people directly impacted by the epidemic and face their lives heroically: from children surviving homelessness on Nairobi's streets to a mother on her deathbed whose only thought is how to care for the children she will leave behind. As Kevin and Roston form a bond of love and respect, each learning from the other, we discover just how much our own lives can change if we dare to help.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A filmmaker's frustrating account of his friendship with an African boy orphaned by AIDS. Roston is a man with a mission: to help the world learn about the 15 million children, most of them living in sub-Saharan Africa, who have lost their parents to AIDS. While making his first movie about HIV in 2001, Roston met Kevin Sumba. The 12-year-old boy, whose mother had died, lived alone in a shack, roasting nuts that he then sold to support himself. Once his film was completed, Roston tried to move on to other projects, feeling that he "had done my bit for the AIDS epidemic," but he kept thinking about all those children, especially Kevin. So he began work on another film: This time, rather than being interviewed by an adult, Kevin would ask the questions, quizzing clerics, politicians and educators about their views on the AIDS epidemic. Roston discovered that African children are told over and over not to use condoms, but simply to abstain-a message, he argues persuasively, that will only lead to more deaths. He points to Thailand as an example of another approach; there, the promotion of safe sex has helped curtail the epidemic. All this is worthy material, but Roston's prose and structure muffle its impact. He has an annoying habit of interrupting the narrative with occasional super-short, coy chapters. "A Brief Note about God and Condoms," for example, runs a mere four paragraphs. He devotes more time to ponderous metaphors than to helping readers get to know the cast of characters, most of whom-including Roston-remain curiously underdeveloped. Readers may be moved by the plight of African orphans in general, but they're unlikely to make a particular connection with Kevin or his mentor.Those seeking a powerful investigation of AIDS in Africa should skip this uneven work and find Helen Epstein's The Invisible Cure (2007).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786720828
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,431,091
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The Emmy-nominated Miles Roston is a writer and director of films, his most recent being the documentaries Make It Real (to me) for the Sundance Channel, and 14 Million Dreams. Both films dealt with the AIDS epidemic in Africa and its effect on children. Currently he is at work writing and directing a major motion picture, a fable dealing with children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

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Table of Contents


Foreword     ix
Prologue: Happy Beginnings     1
Meeting Kevin Sumba     4
Orphans on Oprah     13
Return to Kevin     16
Unable to Return     21
Kevin's Next Journey Begins     25
Back to Kenya     37
Albert     42
A Brief Note about God and Condoms     46
The Effect of No Condoms, Stigma, and Preparing to Die     48
Memory Books     57
Death and Watergate     59
Jane Ochola and God     63
Children     68
Science and Condoms     72
From Botswana to Australia     76
Condoms, Condoms, Condoms     84
You've Got to Take Your Tea with Sugar     89
The Mayor     91
A Brief Note about a Congressman     95
The Road to Nairobi     97
What Orphans Learn in Nairobi     102
Chicken and French Fries, and Darth Vader 109     109
Conspiracies and Abstinence     114
Meeting the Archbishop     117
Nyumbani and Humphrey     120
Medicine and Orphans     126
Who Makes the Medicines?     132
What Julia DidAfterward     139
Just How Bad is the AIDS Epidemic?     142
How Did It Get This Bad?     146
A New Kind of "Misery"     149
Dr. Richard Muga     151
Who's in Charge?     153
The War     157
Ponlapat Takes on Kevin's Quest     160
The Sound of One Heart Breaking     175
Lord Buddha and Condoms     179
Kevin and His Rights     184
Human Rights     192
What Kevin Learned from New York     201
A Happy Ending for a street Child     203
The Other Side of the World     206
Kevin Wears the Suit     211
Kevin Meets the Vice President     213
Orphans Reunited with Seventh Day Adventist Chicken     220
Kevin Leaves the Big City     223
Some Happy Endings     228
Orphans of the World, Unite!     231
Epilogue: And Now...     236
Acknowledgments     240
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    Remarkable Journey to Give a Voice to the Children of the HIV/AIDS Epidpemic

    Beyond the statistics. Beyond the stereotypes. Miles Roston introduces us to a real kid - Kevin - and the real life challenges facing children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world. Kevin is a courageous young man who continued to go school after both his parents died. Roston, a filmmaker, transitions into the role of a humanitarian as he learns more about Kevin's courage and desperate attempt to live a full life. Roston who understands the global HIV/AIDs leadership dynamics realizes the urgency of ensuring that the children are protected and guaranteed a future. Roston's frustration with slow actions gives him the courage to give Kevin a louder voice in the world. Plus, Roston fulfills Kevin dream of going to medical school. Imagine if more children asked world leaders for the truth on HIV/AIDS and what really is being done to help entire communities devastated by HIV/AIDS. Imagine if more people 'adopted' one orphan and ensured that the child had an education and a future. The world would certainly be a better place. Read 'Taking Away the Distance' and see what one little kid in Kenya inspired in a filmmaker from New York City.

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