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A Small Act

Distributed by Ro*co Films International, llc, 80 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 5, Sausalito, CA 94965; 415-332-6471
Produced by HBO Documentary Films
Directed by Jennifer Arnold
DVD , color, 56 min. and 88 min.
Jr. High - Adult
African Studies, Education, Human Rights

Reviewed by Jessica Schomberg, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended    ALA
Date Entered: 11/3/2010

"Education is a life and death issue, because where people are not educated, they are easily exploited for political means and that is how we get violence and conflict." -- Chris Mburu
This documentary is a passionate and intelligent argument for the value of education and small acts of compassion in personal, political and social terms. It examines the impact of education on the lives of Chris Mburu, a Kenyan-born, Harvard-educated human rights lawyer for the United Nations, and Hilde Back, a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany for Sweden when she was a child. Chris’s chance at an education would not have been possible without Hilde, who gave small amounts of money for Chris’s primary school education decades before they ever met.

Also featured in the 88-minute version are three Kenyan children competing for a scholarship from the Hilde Back Foundation, which Chris founded and named in Hilde’s honor. Without a scholarship, none of these three children will be able to attend secondary school—even in primary school they have to take time off school to earn money for their tuition—and without attending secondary school, they will be trapped in the same cycle of poverty in which they were raised.

With scenes of torment and scenes of joy, this is one of the most touching, illuminating and ultimately hopeful documentaries I've seen. I can't recommend this film highly enough.