Women’s History Month – “Mary and Martha” documentary review


Mary and Martha is a documentary directed by Phillip Noyce and stars Hillary Swank.  I found this gem on Amazon Prime and was deeply moved by it.

The first part of the movie starts out showing Mary, a mother, wife and business woman who begins to realize how her son is withdrawing from her and that her lifestyle might not be helping. She finds out he is being bullied in school and she wants to find a way to help. She realizes that her husband is often busy with work, she in hers and her son plays his video games. She wants to find a way to connect to him and she decides she doesn’t just want to be a mom, she wants to be an “amazing” mom for her son. So she decides she wants to take him out of school and spend six months in South Africa and homeschool him there while giving him an amazing experience. With the support of her husband who stays in the US to continue his work, she takes her son to South Africa.  Initially he doesn’t want to go but as time passes he grows into his new environment and is very happy. You watch him really embracing the experience and thrive. Without much more spoilers, the movie goes on to show how Malaria affects the population in South Africa.


Eventually Mary meets another mother, Martha, who’s son went to South Africa, and their chance meeting leads to a beautiful friendship. They decide they want to do something to help the people in Africa fight Malaria.  Again, another film that captures the possibility to make change in the world.

I smiled, I laughed  a little and I cried a lot during this film.

The talented James Wood plays Mary’s, estranged, rich and powerful father. There is a scene in the movie where she goes to him for help and he starts to rattle off numbers that absolutely took my breath away. He said:

“Did you that if you take every single person killed in terrorist act around the world in the last 20 years and you add to that all the lives lost in the Middle East since 1967, the Six Day War, and you add to that every single American life lost in Vietnam, in Korea and in every single American engagement since then –Iraq, Afghanistan. If you take all those lives and you multiply it by two, that’s the number of children that die of Malaria every single year.”

Now I am not sure where to begin to verify the accuracy of this statement but I do know it captured my attention.  Every life is important and sometimes we only focus when large numbers are present. That isn’t good but if that statistic is correct, wow…I feel deeply sad that I have only come to this problem, this late in my life. I feel some guilt. I have a lot of emotions but I think the important thing is that I focus on now, not my lack of knowledge in the past but what I can do in the present.

So inspired by this movie I have located a few organizations that are working towards eradicating Malaria. I want to know: What the current state is? What is being done? How I can help? How I can keep abreast of new developments.

So I urge you to watch the film then decide for yourself if you want to be in the dark moving forward or if you want to know more. I know I sound “preachie” but I think when you feel moved, you tend to act with more purpose.

At this time, the most effective means to prevent malaria is sleeping under a mosquito net, specifically a long-lasting insecticide treated net.

I googled Malaria Charities and found a few and then I found Give Well.org, an organization that reviews charities to see who transparent they are and if donors money is allocated well. I know, like many others, I use caution when donating to charities.  So this might be helpful.

Through them I found out that they found Against Malaria Foundation to be a fairly good charity.  Please check it out.

There are good people doing great things out there and this film was inspired by Harry and Jo Yirrell, a woman who lost her son to Malaria when he gave away his pills to save another person. She is part of a charity called Malaria No More UK.

I have more to learn but with the help of the internet that process is possible.

Have a blessed day friends!



  1. I think the next SWJ you attend should cost $2.50 per person and the money can go towards buying mosquito nets! Hopefully people will be inspired to donate more though!

    • I love that idea. Why not link to this post in your next email to them and then they will definitely be inspired. I love it Joan!

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