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.



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