Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 13:01 UK

Life on the Edge: Overview

Life on the edge composite picture

Life on planet Earth is changing faster than ever before. Globalisation, and the social and religious tensions it fuels, have left some people facing agonising dilemmas for which history is no guide.

The choices involved are especially dramatic for the billions of people living on the edge… from Europe's Roma to Lamu's poor, from unwanted girls in India to former child soldiers in Uganda.

A new series on BBC World News follows their stories as they struggle to understand the forces that confront them, and make the best decisions. The choices they make will shape both the future of their countries - and their own lives.

Life on the Edge airs on BBC World News on Tuesdays at 1930 GMT. The films were made for the BBC by TVE.


5 August

Abdul Karim
On the beautiful island of Lamu on the eastern coast of Kenya, 18-year-old Adbulkarim faces a dilemma that will decide his future. He has just graduated top of his class from school but cannot get hold of the exam certificates he needs for university until he pays his hefty school fees arrears. He earns $1 a day selling vegetables in the market but he could earn several times that by finding work in Lamu's booming tourist industry. Trouble is, as a devout Muslim, he worries that tourism has introduced alcoholism, drugs and soaring house prices that are threatening the local Islamic culture. What will he decide?


12 August

Yurani and Florencio
In Venezuela, it's the middle class who believe they're on the edge, uncomfortable with President Hugo Chavez's socialist policies. Yurani and Florencio, two young Venezuelan doctors, can't decide if their long-term future is definitely in the country they love. Many of their friends have already emigrated to better-paid jobs overseas. As doctors, they want to care for the poor and approve of many of Chavez's initiatives but they also believe he has gone too far. As members of the middle class, they face a fundamental choice - to help the government model Venezuela on Castro's Cuba, or to leave before it's too late. Should they stay and fight for what they believe?


19 August

In the shadow of the Taj Mahal, a mother-of-two has to decide if India can be a country for her young girls. Vaijanti, who's 27, fled her husband's home in the city of Agra after a bitter row - she already had one daughter and his family tried to pressure her to abort another. Now she's living with her parents and two young daughters. But with no income of her own, she wants to know if things are really as bad for girls in the rest of India. Will she decide that India can offer her and her daughters a fair and prosperous future on their own, or will she return to her husband?


26 August

Joshua Blayhi
Joshua Blahyi is an evangelical Christian pastor, preaching peace and forgiveness. He has more need than most. Under his battle name - General Butt Naked - he was one of Liberia's most infamous warlords, responsible for thousands of deaths and, by his own admission, involved in ritual human sacrifice. Liberia's new government must decide whether to forgive him and thousands of other ex-combatants, or not. Is reconciliation the only way forward for such a war-torn and devastated country?


2 September

At the last minute, Arpad decided he couldn't face a meeting with his Romany parents - at the last station before their village, he gave up the idea and left the train. A prize-winning young film director in Hungary, he'd been bought up in an orphanage. Now he's found out who his parents are, but he's still unsure whether to meet them. On his decision rests his sense of his identity, and his future. Should he embrace his gypsy roots, or does he belong in the wider world? In a globalised Europe, he's not the only young person with this dilemma...


9 September

Dominic Ongwen
He's young, handsome and loved by his family. He's also probably the youngest person to be indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. Most people who believe in Western justice would want Dominic Ongwen - "The White Ant" - bought to trial. But many in Uganda would rather rely on local rituals of forgiveness. Kidnapped at the age of nine by the Lord's Resistance Army, some believe the former child soldier should be helped not prosecuted. His victims, his family, his headman, his "bush wife" and the ICC disagree whether it's best to dispense punishment, or mercy.


16 September

Leyla and child
Three girls in the remote wildernesses of Eritrea must endure age-old rituals and prejudices. They can own - but can’t plough - land, must submit to local midwives, and let their daughters be circumcised. Or must they? In wartime Eritrea, women commanded tanks, and led troops into battle. They're no longer victims but sisters. Should they refuse to go along with the old ways? Or will family, friends and neighbours impose a cost too great to bear?


23 September

We've sent machines to the sun, flown to Jupiter, and have plenty to eat... that's how the Hadza of Tanzania see the modern world. But they also cherish a life they don't want to lose - freedom, ancestral lands, no leaders. Now Baallow, one of the few "formally" educated Hadza, is trying to persuade them it can't go on. He reckons land rights are under threat and their children deserve the benefits of development. Life follows Baallow as he tours his tribal lands on a motorbike, trying to sell his message to an undecided people. Should they make the biggest decision of all - to join the globalised world? Or are they better off without us?


30 September

The Prince - as Shehryar calls his friend Rafeh - is the scion of an ancient Pakistani family. They own the village of Ratrian where life hasn't improved much for centuries. One day, Shehryar told Rafeh about the Millennium Development Goals - ambitious targets to eradicate global poverty. Like a prince in a fairy tale, Rafeh decided to try and achieve the MDGs in his own village. But not everyone is so keen. So will the prince persist or decide his ambition was a quixotic fantasy?

You can find full programme information here

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific