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A Swiss film on how it can be hard to help people

The documentary “That Girl” by Swiss director Cornelia Gantner shows how laborious delivering development aid can be, even for locals.

This content was published on September 29, 2021 - 17:00

Gladys Shonga-Furrer grew up in rural Zambia. At 16, she dropped out of school because her parents ran out of money. Gladys refused to be married off and instead went to a town to work and finance her own education.

Years later, she and her Swiss husband Thomas provided development aid in a remote Zambian village: they built a farm, a bridge and a school. But even as a local, Gladys faced  considerable challenges: instead of helping to maintain the bridge, villagers demanded handouts from Gladys, the authorities dragged their feet over permits, and the mayor was offended because he didn’t receive free eggs from Glady and Thomas.

Swiss philanthropist Cornelia Gantner not only supported the project financially, but also made a film about it. For years, she accompanied Gladys in her everyday life. The result is a stark portrait of development aid.

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