July 22, 2011 – It’s all in how you tell the story. Everyone has a story to tell, that we know. But how you tell it, determines whether it hits home.

A Small Act, is a film by American Jennifer Arnold, shot with the help of an official of UNHCR, Jane Wanjiru.

It tells the story of a very poor boy who moved from a poverty riddled part of Githunguri, Kenya, to a high profile job at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

What transformed this boy’s fortune was a kindergarten teacher from Sweden, who knew nothing about Chris Mburu or his school, and did not really care, but made a decision to donate about $15 per month to help fund the education of a ‘child in Kenya’.

Her intention was not to meet him, but to give of her humble earnings to help someone get an education.

Decades later, Mburu had not forgotten this generosity and he started a foundation in the woman’s name – the Hilde Back Education Fund.

To cut a long story short, Mburu and Hilde meet and she sees first hand on a visit to Kenya just how big a ripple her $15 dollars had created. The Foundation started by helping 10 needy but bright students.

“This year,” says Jane, who is Mburu’s cousin, “we are going to help about 100 students and this is growing.”


A Small Act, is a documentary made through Film Forward, an international cultural exchange programme, designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the world.

The documentary was shown during the week-long Film Forward Kenya event in Nairobi, supported by the Sundance Institute.

“This movie was released last year and since then it has been shown about 40 or 50 times in different film festivals around the world. Everywhere it has shown, it touches people’s hearts and shows how one small act can make a very big difference.”

The story also shows the hope generated in three needy students when they learn of the Hilde Back Foundation, how a little donation can change someone’s life and in the process change a country.

“Most of the places where there is conflict, there is a lot of ignorance. The lack of education makes citizens vulnerable to exploitation by politicians, and this is very evident. Education is very important to ensure whatever happened in 2007 does not happen again,” Mburu says in the documentary.

It may not be a typical story told by most filmmakers, where positive comes out of a negative situation. It may not seem like much of a story, but it was how the story was told that made all the difference.

I’d give A Small Act an 8.5 out of 10. Kudos!

Watch the trailer!

A Small Act was screened at a private cocktail at the Tribe Hotel on Thursday night, ending seven days of screenings around the country even within refugee camps of 10 movies; brought to you by FilmAid International.




  • Kenyan Sana

    Its not just you Mulee, this is a jubilination station.

  • kochuka Esq.

    haha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa lol dialogue,talks for 16 years haha for a mere ksh 7000 increment….take it to the dogs..let govrnment show goodwill to teachers eraning ksh 3000 as house allowance…I shudder to think that they are role models..

  • men g

    you seem you dont know realities in Kenya you want to pretend tthat you can write how does a teacher earn .? how much is rent? how much is your fare to work ? if sincerely answer this and compare with teachers earning make sense in your writing. 16 years waiting is painful.

  • mgongoinje

    compare what you earn against poor teachers who may not afford fees for their children in college and also feeding themselves,we all buy goods at the same price and therefore tutors need a better bargain since they are the people upon whom the lives of our children is bestowed.

  • kedgimibadhi

    From 1997, even those who were born then are adults. Why are African leaders very insensitive and insincere to their important citizens except to those who can perpetuate their stay in power. Resigning is never in their vocabulary, except dictatorship. Kenyans should support teachers in asking for their rights. Today it is teachers, tomorrow it is an individual problem and / or Dilemma. So who will force leaders to do the right thing when even the courts rullings are always in support of the mighty and powerful?

  • guest

    Ushenzi Mtupu …… This Poorly written article Article is MYOPIC and clearly Biased towards the GOVT. Go tell it to the birds Mr Mwangi AKA TNA MOLE …. we know where your linage is….

  • Kathenge

    Dan mwangi you are not right unless you are writing from rumors, between teachers and Government who is issuing threats. Teachers have never issued threat to government, the teachers of this country have been taken in circles by every government its time the teachers to be paid well and in full so this matter can be settled once and for all, lets not use teacher for campaign tools.

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