The Swedish-American Museum in Chicago, together with SWEA-Chicago, hosted an evening screening the HBO documentary “A Small Act” by filmmaker Jennifer Arnold. The movie is about how Chris Mbum from Kenya was sponsored as a child by a Swedish woman named Hilde Back. The money she sent every month (about $15) made it possible for Mbum to finish grade school in Kenya. If not for her help, Mbum would have had to stop going to school at an early age. He went on to receive a scholarship at Harvard University, and today he is a human rights lawyer for the United Nations and works all over the world.

His home country has been a troubled nation in many ways, and Mbum realized that knowledge is the only way to make a difference. No education is the breeding ground for intolerance, ignorance and violence. He went back to Kenya and started a foundation for sponsoring young gifted students. It was named “The Hilde Back Education Foundation” after the woman who made it possible for him to get an education.

Shortly after starting the foundation in Kenya, Mbum decided that he needed to meet Back. He had to let her know what a difference she had made in his life. He searched to find the stranger who changed his life, and after a lot of help from different people both in Kenya and in Sweden, Mbum finally found Back in Sweden.
Today she is a retired preschool teacher, and they have met several times in both countries. A lifelong bond was formed between them, and Mbum calls Back his angel. She always thought it was just a small act to sponsor Mbum's education. The movie shows the ripple effect a single action can create.
By Kristina Hall

The movie is screened in New Haven on May 2 at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent Street, New Haven, CT. For more info, contact David Levine, 203-392-6642.
In Los Angeles on May 9 (7 p.m. - Tradition and Identity, The LA Jewish Film Festival), West Bloomfield, Mich. on May 15 and in Chicago again on May 25. For more screenings and general information, see: