Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves

In Garden of the Lost and Abandoned, documentary filmmaker Jessica Yu tells the inspiring story of a vivacious, selfless, determined woman who's found genuine happiness helping those others have forgotten. Widowed, unemployed and middle-aged, Gladys Kalibbala entered a journalism program for college-bound students. When the other participants headed off to universities, Gladys used the new skills and her own inquisitive personality to convince Uganda's largest newspaper, New Vision, to give her a shot as a reporter. Gladys's penchant for human-interest stories led to a weekly column covering lost children and forever changed her life.

The objective of her "Lost and Abandoned" articles is to reunite children with their families. As Yu describes her, Gladys is "a foot soldier: out in the field, boots on the ground." She details the incredible lengths to which Gladys goes to find relatives. When that doesn't happen, or for cases with special circumstances, Gladys becomes even more personally involved, finding resources for food, clothes, shelter, medical attention and education. She takes a passionate interest in the success of her young subjects. They become her children, and she, their mother.

Gladys knows that "a person's story might head in a dark direction, but that did not mean it was destined to end in tragedy." Hers is one of hope and love; Yu narrates it with admiration, compassion and humor. Her descriptions of the central players and the African setting shine with the reverence of one who recognizes the beauty and strength wildflowers possess as they bloom amid the weeds. Garden of the Lost and Abandoned is a gorgeously uplifting antidote to the ugly proliferation of greed, apathy and hate. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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