Clara is a Novice in the order of the Mission for the Propagation of the Faithful. Living among the Pondo tribe on the Wild Coast, her mission is to convert save the souls of the rapidly dying Africans before it’s too late. Along with her fellow missionaries, she runs a clinic to administer to the most ill villagers, urging the dying to accept Jesus. Inexperienced and optimistic, Clara strays from her mission and becomes embroiled in a futile struggle to help a family of orphans. When one of her charges is raped as part of a folk cure, she makes a bargain with Mr. Hallyday, a wealthy Afrikaans plantation owner, which aids the children but threatens her own salvation.

When Jin Ping sets up her mobile blood collection service in the tiny village of Tonghu, the local peasants rejoice and prosper. But one farmer, Tong Sam, is barred from selling his blood because he has the flu, so he lies about his little daughter’s age so she can sell blood twice a month in his stead. Sam uses the money to improve his humble farm, to plant more rice and buy an ox for plowing. But by the time his abundant crop is ready for harvesting, his wife and daughter are both mysteriously dead. Sam sets out on a journey across the province to find out why, but receives little interest from the government. He returns to find his entire village overwhelmed with disease, and Jin Ping’s blood collection business disappeared into thin air.

Denny is a second rate porn actor who passes his monthly blood tests by stealing samples from his geriatric father. When Denny gets caught, his poverty-stricken family is thrown into turmoil. Facing the prospect of long-term care for her son, his waitress mother Olive develops a plan to escape the luckless hardship that has been her life. She invests her savings into upgrading her life insurance policy, deliberately exposes herself to a fatal disease, and then sells her life insurance for a viatical settlement worth millions.

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