The Format

2 x 1 Hour
Channel 5
Part 1: 15th February, 10pm
Part 2: 22nd February, 10pm

The Premise

A two-part series for Channel 5. Captive Minds gained exclusive access with the charity Facing Africa, following the extraordinary medical journeys of patients undergoing groundbreaking reconstructive surgery.

Every year twenty volunteer medics travel to Ethiopia with the charity Facing Africa.

Every six months they perform groundbreaking reconstructive surgery on patients with little or no local health care facilities.

In this documentary series, over 40 patients have been found from all over the country – often in the poorest, most remote regions. They are all waiting to be seen by a doctor, many of them ravaged by trauma and disease. All the patients are hoping to be given a new face and a new life, but in just two weeks not everyone can be treated.

People with facial deformities from rural Ethiopia are often shunned by their neighbours who fear they’re possessed with evil spirits. They spend their days hiding away, too afraid to go outside. This surgical team from the UK are their last resort.

In this series we follow the work of the British team as they make heartbreaking decisions about who they can and can’t treat.

In part one, we meet Zinash: a twenty two year old from the north of Ethiopia. She has a tumour that’s been growing for over six years. It’s now taken over her lower jaw, is bleeding, and will kill her if not treated.

She saw local healers who were unable to help so she made the long and exhausting journey to the capital city to meet the team who are her only hope. It’s the first time the surgeons have undertaken such a long, complex operation. Something they would have been unable to tackle a few years ago. Can the team save Zinash?

Twenty year old Hulu is the subject of part two, and comes from the poorest region of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. She’s had a very complex tumour growing in her neck which has remained untreated for over 5 years. Dropping out of school, hiding in her bed, she was sent to the monastery when her family felt that only the power of prayer could help her.

A nurse from Facing Africa found Hulu close to death and brought her to the hospital. The tumour has already broken her jaw in two, and is slowly starving her to death. If Facing Africa can’t help her, she will die.

Our two-part documentary series is coming to Channel 5 on the 15th and 22nd February at 10pm.