Members of Japan’s feared Yakuza crime syndicate are often portrayed as grim-faced professional killers in sharp black suits and dark glasses, but the reality is somewhat different. Meet Mr. Makoto, a tubby tattooed Yakuza mobster and ‘old-fashioned guy’ who shows how the life of a gangster in modern-day Japan ain’t what it used to be.
In the shadow of an active volcano, crushing poverty, and sporadic wars, Charlie Makongo founded a cycling club in the Congolese city of Goma to give its youth a beacon of hope. Concentrating on training distracts the boys from their harsh everyday lives and keeps them from joining armed groups. But a menacing cloud hangs over the project: Nyiragono is due for another eruption.
In 1994, over a million people were killed in Rwanda when members of the Hutu tribe began to slaughter their Tutsi neighbours. Over 20 years on, citizens work every day to prevent the deadly schism from reopening in their society and everyone simply calls themselves Rwandan. RTD visits the first ever ballet school in Rwanda, where the young dancers strive to realise their dreams and give their country something better to be famous for than genocide.
“Geological scandal” is a phrase often used to describe The Democratic Republic of Congo. It is one of the world’s most resource-rich countries with extensive deposits of gold, diamonds, tungsten and uranium amongst many others. The abundance of internationally valued minerals has however failed to bring any kind of prosperity. It began with colonial exploitation of the land and its people and continued in bloody civil war, the Congolese have harvested nothing from their country’s natural riches but misery and poverty.
North Koreans say they’re the happiest people in the world. Their great leader is like a father who takes care of them and all their needs. They’re told that he’s made their country the most powerful and economically developed on the planet. A quick look at the World Wide Web or any international media might lead to a different conclusion but in North Korea, they’re banned.
In one of the most poverty-stricken slums in Kenya’s capital, elderly women are increasingly preyed upon by young men who believe that raping them can cure HIV. Things are starting to change, however. With the launch of self-defence courses, women are learning physical and psychological techniques to thwart predators, empowering victims to venture outside again.
The Favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, are slums made up of self-built houses. Life here is largely controlled by criminal gangs. It’s the poorest members of society who live in the Favelas; they simply try to survive amid violent gunfights between drug lords and law enforcement.
Some call it, “The Mine”, to others, it’s “the beast”, an infamous rubbish dump in Guatemala City, Central America’s biggest capital. For thousands of poor people it provides a livelihood. Raw sewage flows through the massive landfill and twice a year, floods cause deadly landslides.
For 100 years, Jharia town in India has lived on top of a perpetually burning coal field. Once green and beautiful, the region is now scorched and barren, while its people are suffering from respiratory diseases. Despite the danger, most families daren’t relocate because coal provides their only means of income.
According to a medieval Albanian tradition, a woman can take a man’s place as the head of a family if she renounces her womanhood, following strict rules laid down by a centuries-old code. Surprisingly, a few women, known as "sworn virgins" still observe the custom.
Like most students in rural Nepal, Durge Kami is a diligent pupil who tries to listen to his teachers. He differs from his school mates in just one respect, he is 69! At such a ripe old age, he was determined to realise his life’s ambition to complete his education. Not everyone supported him at first but by doing what he loves he’s become an inspiration for kids and adults alike.
In Vietnam, Phuc Tong made a cemetery for unborn babies. His country, where poverty and social stigma push women to terminate unplanned pregnancies, has the highest abortion rate in Asia. He has dedicated his life to helping young mothers and their babies. He offers shelter and tries to convince women to keep their children, even if that means raising them himself.
When kids are accused of witchcraft in Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo, they’re thrown out of their homes. They beg and steal in the streets, where might is right. The aim of the country’s first centre for homeless children is to bring them back to their families. But superstition in Congolese society is hard to combat.
They joined the army driven by a desire to serve their country and its people. However, the wars they were sent to made them re-evaluate everything they believed in. Now, US veterans are trying to come to terms with their past and learn how to live among civilians again. It turns out, they’ve no one to rely on but each other.
RT Doc visits Angeles City in the Philippines, an infamous and popular sex tourism destination. The city is home to many children conceived by foreign holiday makers who took what they wanted and left offspring in their wake.