Private Project

Road to Hope

No Parents. No Future. No Hope. Stranded in Sub-Saharan Africa, orphaned by an AIDS epidemic, thousands of children are left on their own, in need of a shepherd to save them.

  • Mike Wargo
    Okuyamba, Conquering Pain
  • Mike Wargo
    Okuyamba, Michiana's Rising Star
  • Cyndy Searfoss
  • Mike Wargo
    Okuyamba, Michiana's Rising Star
  • Torrey DeVitto
    Key Cast
    Chicago Med, Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries
  • Marvin Curtis
  • Thomas Limbert
  • Stephen Tibbo
    Sound Mixing
    Modern Family, American Pie 2, Mad Men, Payback
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 11 minutes 3 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 22, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    75,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mike Wargo

Mike Wargo was born in Elkhart, Indiana, the son of a career soldier and a grocery store clerk. At the age of 10, he was in his first theatrical performance and began shooting films with a Super-8 movie camera he'd received as a birthday gift. Continuing to perform in occasional theatrical productions through college, Mike dabbled in journalism as editor of his college newspaper and majored in political science.

Following in his father's footsteps, he entered military service after college and quickly concluded that it was not to be his lifelong calling. Following a stint in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, Mike began teaching college and eventually settled into a business career that ranged from the banking and hospitality industries to a wide array of entrepreneurial ventures. Though he achieved professional success during a 20+ year career in the business world, Mike found his greatest personal satisfaction came through his involvement in leadership roles of various non-profit organizations.

After helping to found the Hospice Foundation of a regional hospice organization, Center for Hospice Care, Mike found himself being asked to leave the for-profit sector to take over as the organization's chief operating officer. To raise awareness of the foundation's work to support the development of palliative care in Africa, Mike produced his first documentary film which focused on health care workers caring for patients dying deep in the villages of Uganda. The film, entitled Okuyamba, the Lugandan word meaning 'to help,' received recognition in numerous film competitions and festivals and has been screened around the world to raise awareness about the work of hospices working to bring this needed care to the dying throughout Subsaharan Africa.

Hooked on developing films that raise awareness for important causes, Mike now produces targeted videos and documentaries as a means through which to raise awareness of various projects and programs in which the Hospice Foundation is involved. He also serves on the board of directors of PBS-affiliate Michiana Public Broadcasting Corporation in South Bend, Indiana which operates the Center for Public Media and WNIT television studios. In addition to his board service, Mike is the creator and a producer of its hit television series, Michiana's Rising Star, which recently completed its 3rd season.

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Director Statement

The Road to Hope film was born out of a visit to the remote village of Kakumiro, Uganda by Rose Kiwanuka, Country Director of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda, and Roberta Spencer, a hospice volunteer from the United States. There, inside a small hut with no running water or electricity, they discovered 5-year old George Bazaire caring for his emaciated father who could no longer walk.

They learned that George was primary caregiver for his father, dying of Tuberculosis. Though a palliative care team from a clinic in the nearby village visited occasionally, during those interim times it was up to George to walk the five kilometers to get his father's medicine. It also fell to George to hunt for and prepare their food, to fetch water from the local stream and then to boil away the impurities so it became drinkable. George cleaned his father and emptied his bedpan.

Rose and Roberta returned to their work, but the image of George and his difficult situation was burned in their minds. When they returned to the village months later, they went to the hut to check in on George and his father. The door and window were boarded shut. George was nowhere to be found. When they inquired around the village, they learned that his father had died and George had gone to a nearby village to live with relatives. They went searching and when they found George they discovered that though he was now six years old he was still not in school. Sick, hungry and with rags for clothing, there was no one to pay school fees for him. The ladies quickly reached the conclusion they needed to do something. They went to the local government school, paid his school fees, bought a uniform and made certain he'd be fed everyday. As they termed it, "George was now on a road to hope." But, what about all the other George's that must live on when their parents are gone and they no longer have anyone to care for and no one to care for them?

Roberta returned to the U.S., sharing this story with the Hospice Foundation staff with whom she'd been working. Together, they felt compelled to act by establishing a fund to support orphaned child caregivers. They raised money among friends and in the community. As a result, many children have been helped, but the numbers of children throughout Sub-Saharan Africa whose parents have died as the result of HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and a whole host of other life-threatening diseases is overwhelming.

Our film explores the realities of life in developing countries where hope for a better life is often nothing more than an elusive dream for orphaned children. We also explore the hearts and minds of unintentional shepherds who emerge, restoring faith in these children who might otherwise have been lost. Together, they walk the road to hope in search of a better life for themselves and for those they encounter along their journey.