It Takes a Village

  • TV series
  • Drama


When young father Rex’s wife dies in childbirth, his reality is shaken and he decides to build a health clinic for his remote village in Papua New Guinea.


Rex and Miriam are expecting their third child on a perfectly normal day in a perfectly normal PNG village. The delivery goes well, but they quickly realise that Miriam has retained her placenta and she becomes very unwell, very quickly. Rex is forced to make a long and dangerous trip around the bay to get Miriam to the emergency help she needs, which arrives in the form of Dr Barry Kirby and the THOR plane.

However, the reality is the health centre does not have the equipment or supplies they need and it took too long to get there. Despite all their efforts, Miriam dies.

Travelling home with his new, motherless baby, Rex reflects on how they got to this situation. He has a lightbulb moment and makes the remarkable decision to try and get a health clinic started in his own village to support the mothers of his community and the villages nearby.

Rex faces many challenges to reach his goal, including the skepticism and disapproval of the men in the village, the logistics of getting a building up, the frustration of trying to bring other villages on board and the fact that, as a typical PNG man, he has no real knowledge or experience of how safe pregnancy and birthing works.

In addition to the ongoing story of Rex, each episode features a new birth story based on real cases from Dr Barry Kirby’s experience.

It Take a Village is the story of one man’s goal to change his world to make it better place for his children and how he brings his whole community with him.


This project’s roots go back to 1990 when Barry Kirby, an Australian builder in his 40s working in Papua New Guinea, realised how dire the state of maternal and child health in Papua New Guinea really was. In a momentous change of life, Barry returned to Australia and spent the next 12 years training as an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Then he bought a sea plane, returned to Papua New Guinea and founded The Hands of Rescue (THOR), a not-for-profit organisation with the following goals:

  • Reduce maternal deaths
  • Improve access to family planning education
  • End violence against women
  • Promote gender equality

Since then, Dr Kirby has devoted his life to providing clinical support to mothers and children in remote and regional Papua New Guinea.

Dr Kirby has seen first hand the difference getting expectant mothers into health clinics can make. Using an incentive program whereby expectant mothers receive free baby supplies if they attend a health clinic, he has achieved an 80% increase in supervised delivery and 75% reduction in maternal deaths in the centres THOR supports in the Milne Bay region. It is this sense of innovation and social entrepreneurialism that is the driver of ‘It Takes a Village’.

Magenius is proud to be working with THOR and Screencraft Screencraft to bring the pilot episode of It Takes a Village to life with funding support from the World Health Organisation. The pilot episode premiered in Papua New Guinea in March 2020 and has had multiple runs since. It will screen on Australia’s NITV channel in September 2020. Screen Canberra has generously provided production funds to commence work on the next four episodes.

Written by Paul Bissett & Catherine Prosser
Directed by Michael Fardell
Cinematography by Michael Fardell

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