CNN Freedom Project Documentary: Operation Hope

CNN Freedom Project’s latest documentary ‘Operation Hope’ follows a seven-year-old Bangladeshi boy’s remarkable journey to recovery after he was viciously attacked, castrated and left for dead by a gang when he refused to be coerced into begging.

More than a year in the making, this moving film documents the boy’s complicated path to recovery, witnesses his father’s heartbreak and meets the American businessman so moved by the story he was inspired to finance a trip to the United States for the boy’s much-needed reconstructive surgery. Read the full story here.

‘Operation Hope’ can first be seen on CNN International (Sky 506, Virgin Media 607, Freesat 207 & TalkTalk 506) on Saturday 8 December at 0900 GMT and 2000 GMT.

You can watch a short video promo here.

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"You cannot die! You cannot die!" the father mumbles to the bloodied, mutilated boy who lies unconscious on his lap.

His hands press down on the boy's slashed-open stomach to keep the insides from spilling out. He sobs convulsively. "Listen to me! You cannot die!" he repeats his morbid mantra. "If for nothing else, to exact justice."

The two are on a rickshaw headed to a hospital in Dhaka. It's not the most effective way to transport a dying child through the cramped, congested streets of the Bangladeshi capital. But it's all that the impoverished father can afford. Hours earlier, four men had surrounded the 7-year-old boy, bound his hands and feet and cracked open his head with a brick. They held him down and took a switchblade to his throat. They sliced his chest and belly in an upside down cross. And in a final brutal act, they hacked him sideways, chopping off his penis and his right testicle.

"It's amazing that he lived," a doctor would later say. "I'm really surprised he didn't bleed to death prior to getting to the hospital."

This is the story of a boy who not only survived, but is now the key witness in a trial that has forced Bangladesh to confront the cruel but overlooked practice of forced begging. It is also the story of strangers, half a world away, who set out to show the boy that good exists in equal measure as evil - and who set off a chain reaction of kindness to make him whole again.

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