What happens when a group of Finns travel to a tiny village in Benin to participate in a vaccination study? By participating, they can aid in the development of a diarrhea vaccine for children in developing countries – and, at the same time, have a different kind of vacation in West Africa. The complicated side of helping people and the clashes between two cultures rise to the forefront of Mia Halme’s delicious documentary film.
The study is led by doctor Anu Kantele, who has spent a lot of time in Benin. The study has brought over 700 Finns to the country for two weeks at a time. Kantele and others involved in the study have stayed in Benin a lot over the past two years, becoming a curious part of the village community. Kantele knows the villagers, functioning as a mediator between them and the visiting Finnish tourists. Getting to help others is an incredible part of being a doctor, muses Kantele as she speaks of her experience in a speech she gives in Finland. “We get so much out of it ourselves”.
The documentary depicts the 44th test group of Finns in Benin, the final group to participate in the study. In addition to taking part in the study, the Finnish tourists take day trips. For some, helping the locals becomes another activity on their holiday. Their vacation is made special by the gathering of their precious stool samples, which a moped driver is ready take into the laboratory around the clock.
The scientific study forms a background for the film, which studies social relations and the problematics of helping others. Even sincere desire to help can cause trouble when the consequences are not carefully considered. The film brings forth cultural differences and relationships between people in all their diversity, perplexity, and beauty.