About the Film
For over a decade, Len and Georgia Morris have been making films about children in extreme poverty and advocating for change.
“We have seen many good programs that work on a small scale, but the need is too great. Passing the global hat to feed, educate and protect all children will never work. What’s required is a global business plan from the source. . . and THE SAME HEART.
Suggesting a sustainable approach, THE SAME HEART also follows a dynamic Kenyan community organizer who devotes his life to making programs work from the bottom up. He is our man in the trenches. In Geoffrey’s words …
It’s an approach for lasting change if we all come at it, from First World to Third with the same heart.
Recently, out of curiosity I Googled, “The Same Heart.” The search engine sent me to the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah where the phrase was defined as
“Sharing the same path, purpose and unity of action. Having the same spirit.”
I’ve often heard the phrase spoken by a young community organizer we’ve worked with, Geoffrey Bakhuya. Raised in rural poverty, Geoffrey has seen first-hand the efforts by governments and NGO’s to help Kenyans help themselves. To Geoffrey, the same heart has little to do with money.
“We should be our brother’s keeper, everyone from Kenya and beyond should have the same heart to fight poverty the same heart to help children who are in need of care and protection. So when you come together, the common enemy is poverty. It’s like rainwater, it collects in small streams until it becomes like a big river. There’s power in numbers.”
This is a film about children and poverty. We began THE SAME HEART five years ago as an attempt to make sense of what we’ve seen and experienced making our previous films on child labor and street children.
In 1990, the global community came together in an extraordinary moment to set eight Millennium Development Goals: to end poverty, hunger, fight disease, protect the earth, promote gender equality and create a more equitable planet. Pledges of funding were made, programs initiated, and funds spent to achieve the goals by 2015.
There has been real progress. Poverty has been cut in half, mostly as a result of economic growth in Asia, polio has all but been eradicated, malaria and TB reduced. Deaths from HIV have declined, child mortality is down and millions of children have gone to school for the first time. The world has seen what’s possible.
Yet extreme poverty still leaves nearly a billion people hungry and living on less than a dollar a day, forcing 215 million children into child labor and allowing nine million children to die each year from preventable causes.
When triumphant headlines read “456,000 children receive HIV/AIDS drugs” the next headline should have been “But 3.5 million kids are infected.” The drugs exist but the funding isn’t there and so children still die. Knowing what we know, we all share in the responsibility for these deaths.
THE SAME HEART is a film that tackles what it will take to actually end this kind of extreme poverty that our world’s children are inheriting. What are the alternatives to our complicated and voluntary aid system where most countries, our own included, deliver less than half the funds we have pledged? What do we need to do differently? We have asked these questions of Nobel Laureates, economists, politicians, activists, child laborers and community organizers.
Economists and moral leaders know it’s possible to feed and educate every child, provide medicine to the sick, shelter, clean air and water. We can have this world if we want it badly enough. It will take money of course, time, innovation and political will.
What it will take is THE SAME HEART.
The Same Heart is an essay film with many voices. The cast includes:
Geoffrey Bakhuya – Our storyteller, Kenyan community organizer, Luya by tribal birth,
an HIV case worker in Nairobi’s Kibera slum for Doctors Without Borders.
Nobel Peace Laureates
Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Nobel Laureate, South Africa Dr. Wangari Maathai – Nobel Laureate and environmentalist, Kenya
Shirin Ebadi – Peace Laureate, lawyer and activist, Iran
Mairead Maguire – Peace Laureate, Ireland
Lech Walesa – Peace Laureate, Founder Solidarity, Poland
Carlos Belo – Peace Laureate, Catholic Bishop, East Timor
F. Willem De Klerk – Peace Laureate, Former President, South Africa
Joseph Onyango Siri – farmer, widowed father of 8, lives on less than a $ a day
Aloys Opiyo Otieno – Executive Director of the Undugu Society of Kenya
Vincent Oramisi – Field worker for Undugu, social worker for street children
Sister Mary Owen – Loreto Sister, Director, Nyumbani Children’s Home & Village
Jael Okeyo – Teacher, sex educator and counselor at St. Juliana Girls School
Suzanne Waithera – HIV-positive mother living (and dying) on the street, Nairobi
Grandma Sabina – grandmother raising her children’s HIV-positive children
Emmanuel – Street boy
Joshua – Former street boy now in secondary school, wants to be an engineer
Miriam – Former street girl, now in secondary school, wants to be a pilot
Mary – rescued 7-year-old street girl
Deborah – student, Kimana School, Maasailand, wants to be a surgeon
Jemima – Writer and poet, secondary student at St. Juliana Girls School
Issac – HIV-positive street boy and prostitute
Economists and Political Figures
Dean Baker – Economist, Center for Economic & Policy Research, Washington
Peter Bakvis – Exec. Director of ITUC/Global Unions, world’s largest labor union
Jeffrey Sachs – Economist, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia Univ. (news film)
President Barack Obama – 43rd President of the United States (news film)
President George W. Bush – 41st President of the United States (news film)
Ethics and Philanthropy
Peter Singer – Professor of Ethics, Princeton University
Bill Gates – Global Philanthropist (news film)
Bill Nighy – English actor and activist (Robin Hood tax ad)
Len has been editing, producing and directing documentary films broadcast on most major networks in the US and internationally. He began his television journalism at ABC 20/20 and has independently produced documentaries through his production company, Galen Films for many years.
With the turn of the new millennium he made a change from documentary entertainments to films confronting children’s human rights, starting with STOLEN CHILDHOODS, about child labor, then on to RESCUING EMMANUEL, about the life of street children and culminating with THE SAME HEART, a new approach to lifting children out of extreme poverty.
Len is also the Founder and Director of Media Voices for Children (www.mediavoices.org), a non-profit online news agency for children’s rights.
Iqbal Masih Award for “extraordinary efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor” from the U.S. Department of Labor
Images and Voices of Hope Award Walter Cronkite Award
Artivist Child Advocacy Award
Roy W. Dean Documentary Award
CableAce for Best Cultural and Entertainment Special
American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Grant
Georgia is a playwright, writer of network and cable television shows and a documentary director and interviewer. Her work has been broadcast on ABC, PBS, TNT, AMC and TV networks across the world. Her most recent work has been in human rights documentaries: as director of AMERICA’S CHILD, a documentary short about children in poverty in Washington, DC, as writer of STOLEN CHILDHOODS and as Co-Director of RESCUING EMMANUEL, the story of a street boy.
Georgia is a partner in Galen Films.
Petra Lent has worked with Galen Films for over 25 years as co-producer and editor. She is also the Associate Director for Media Voices for Children.
Steve Button has collaborated with Len and Georgia Morris on children’s rights projects for over a decade. He traveled to Kenya in 2006 and again in 2011 as photographer for THE SAME HEART. He has been the web designer and online producer for our children’s trilogy; Stolen Childhoods (2005), Rescuing Emmanuel (2009) and THE SAME HEART.
In 2008, he co-founded Media Voices for Children, a non-profit online community that focuses on the impacts of poverty on children.
Director of Photography
Ian Ellerby is the Director of Photography for THE SAME HEART as he was for Rescuing Emmanuel. He also shot all of Nobel Laureate interviews in Rome and the Desmond Tutu interview in New York City. His company, Irefilms, works on a range of projects that includes independent features, dance films and video oral histories.
Editor, Technical guru
Chris Mara has edited with Galen Films for many years, is our systems and IT engineer and
an AVID Beta Tester.
U.R. Romano has shot stills and video of child laboring all over the world. He was co-director and director of photography on Stolen Childhoods, also produced by Galen Films. Robin shot The Dark Side of Chocolate, on child labor in cacao, and directed and shot The Harvest/La Cosecha on migrant child laborers working in agriculture in the United States. His work has won numerous awards.
The lush music that comprises the The Same Heart soundtrack was donated by the GRAMMY Award-winning independent record label Motéma Music and the Motéma artists who wrote and performed the songs. The soundtrack includes 15 world, jazz and soul music tracks by 11 artists and is a digital-only release worldwide. Benefit CDs will be available, however, for sale at screenings of The Same Heart. Motema Music.
Founded in 2003 by singer-songwriter Jana Herzen and based in Harlem, the label offers a mix of jazz, soul and world music.
Malika Zarra is a Moroccan born singer/composer/producer who moved with her family to Paris as a young girl. Singing in Berber, Moroccan Arabic, French and English, her music leaps effortlessly between seemingly unconnected languages and traditions, uniting them while utilizing each to further enrich the others.
Through the beauty of her voice and the magic of her compositions, Malika Zarra reminds us of the musical diversity of our ancestral homeland, Africa.
Awa Sangho was born in Mali and raised in the Ivory Coast. Awa’s lyrics are socially conscious, often communicating reverence for the people who have touched her life, to controversial habits of culture, to message music directed to the youth. The music percolates with the rhythms and resonance of Africa and with the influence of ears that have world-wide exposure.
Awa Sangho is a triple threat: composer, singer, musician, whose light burns super bright on stage in her debut recording coming out soon on Motema Music. I could not be more honored to represent this fine artist.
Galen Films produces social documentaries with a focus on children’s human rights.
Over the past fifteen years, we have been producing a trilogy of films that focus on the causes and best practice solutions to child labor, children on the streets and chronic poverty.
The final film in the trilogy will be THE SAME HEART, a project that crystallizes
much of what we have seen, filmed and learned.
Narrated by Meryl Streep and filmed in eight countries, broadcast worldwide and translated into six languages, STOLEN CHILDHOODS is the story of 215 million children for whom life is nothing but work.
The film places these children’s stories in the broader context of the worldwide struggle against child labor. Stolen Childhoods provides an understanding of the causes of child labor, what it costs the global community, how it contributes to global insecurity and what it will take to eliminate it.
Click here to view the Stolen Childhoods press kit.
Click here to purchase a copy.
A thirteen-year-old boy named Emmanuel living on the streets of Nairobi buttonholes the filmmakers and will not be denied. What was going to be a film about the global problem of 100 million children abandoned to raise themselves on the streets of the world turns into the story of this boy. Shot over five years in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya and the United States, Rescuing Emmanuel is a window into a growing global human rights crisis, its multiple causes and the dreams of one boy. Emmanuel’s name, ironically, means “ God among us.” Who will notice if his life is snuffed out?
Click here to view the Rescuing Emmanuel press kit.
Click here to purchase a copy.