roughMIFF #2: Our second MIFF film was another hard-hitting African documentary, this time set in South Africa. Rough Aunties is an inspirational film about a group of strong, feisty women who help and protect the abused children of Durban. The suffering of the little victims are horrendous, from beatings to molestation to rape to incest, and these incredible women hug children, shed tears, visit families, harangue courts and accompany police raids as part of Operation BobbiBear.

The documentary follows them in their work, but also delves into their personal lives and privations. One auntie experienced sexual abuse as a child and then married a man who was verbally abusive and adulterous. Another auntie wails in grief when her son drowns due to illegal dredging of the river bed. An auntie loses a family member after he is shot by burglars in his home, but as he cannot the upfront payment for a private hospital he is turned away. The team treat each other as family, with the founder of BobbiBear Jackie as their leader. Jackie is remarkable for her drive, her passion and her compassion – she has a household of adopted kids of all nationalities, kids who would otherwise not experience any love or any sense of childhood.

I left the cinema moved and inspired. These women deserve to be supported and acknowledged worldwide for their dedication – go and see the film to learn about their work, donate money via their website and if you live in South Africa, volunteer your time.