To Touch the Soul (2007)
CSULB Professor Carlos Silveira, an artist educator and social activist, wants to bring a sense of joy to impoverished children in Cambodia who are affected by HIV/AIDS. He has recruited 27 American university students to join him as part of a pilot program in using drawing and painting to help these children express their wishes and desires for their futures. As Carlos and the students grapple with the realities of a culture much different from their own, a language they don't understand, art projects that don't go as planned and a three-week deadline, they form a bond with the children. Through these young Cambodian mentors-all of them abandoned by society-the Americans empower their own social activism and learn the true meaning of kindness, selflessness, courage and community. Told from Carlos' and six of his students' perspectives through a mix of spoken (voice-over) diary entries, interviews and interaction with the children as they create art projects together, this documentary shows that even the smallest attempt at making a difference can have life-changing consequences for all the people involved. The film also highlights the growing problem of the 77,000 children in Cambodia who have become orphans due to their parents dying from AIDS, a population expected to grow to 108,700 over the next five years. Yet, the audience is left with a sense of hope that adequate funding, proper food and medical care, as exemplified through the featured NGOs Little Sprouts and Little Folks, will allow these children to thrive until hopefully there is a cure for this unforgiving disease.- Written by Teresa Hagen
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