The Heart of Nuba

“We can’t lose sight” of the fact that people have the same value no matter where they live. Otherwise we lose our humanity.”
Dr. Tom Cartena The Heart of Nuba

Some want to take this a step further, and be known as a Humanitarian. Here’s Webster’s definition:

A person promoting human welfare and social reform.

Studies show that the habit of doing good in the world, has a positive affect on your life. I’m sure you’ve had that rush of positive feelings after doing something good for someone. It’s commonly known as “helpers high” when the endorphins kick in and bring you that heightened sense of pleasure. And, of course, there’s the gratitude that generally comes along with it, on both sides of the act. Win-Win! For the skeptics, here’s an article on the scientific facts of doing good.


A number of inspirational movies have been made where heroes embody this spirit, from big studio movie like Gandhi and Hotel Rwanda to documentaries like Starfish Throwers and Blood Brother.

There is a new film currently having a limited theatrical run, where we see more examples of pure humanitarianism. In this case, with The Heart of Nuba, we have two primary heroes to celebrate, the Doctor who gives his life to saving children, and the filmmaker who risks his live to share this story.

Movie Synopsis

Dr. Tom Catena’s patients come from hundreds of miles away on foot, in carts, or carried. Welcome to the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, an area of the world where years of war have been ignored. One American surgeon cares for patients, ranging from malnutrition and leprosy, to wounds inflicted by bombings ordered by their own president, Omar al-Bashir.

The Call for Help

Filmmaker Kenneth Carlson got the call. Brown University classmate and football teammate Dr. Tom “Catman” Catena was in a crisis. It seems that a truck carrying a year’s worth of precious medical supplies, vaccines and food to the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where Dr. Tom is the only surgeon for nearly one million people, had been hijacked. The rain season was less than three weeks out. Mr. Carlson knew if the supplies did not reach their destination, people would die. So he made the gutsy humanitarian choice. He made his way to South Sudan to help.

“I was ordered off a cargo plane and found myself on a dusty airstrip in South Sudan, with a half dozen boy soldiers aiming AK-47s at my head.”
Kenneth A. Carlson, Director/Producer

Miraculously, within two weeks the Brown community raised more than $102,000 not only to replace the stolen truck but to fill it with more supplies than it had before! Two days before the heavy rains started, the truck with life-saving supplies arrived at the hospital and lives were saved.

Everything Counts

Not everyone can put their lives on hold and leave the country to save lives. But you would be surprised how everyone, in their own way, can make a difference. Whether it means donating some time to help kids, the homeless or making a small donation, we can have an impact. Here is a great site (GiveWell), a place to start, where you can make a big difference, for very little. Maybe one less latte every month. The helpers high lasts longer than a caffeine fix, with much better side effects.

Note: This article is part of our Habits of Heroes series. See previous segments published with The Mission, including: Habits of Heroes: Perseverance; and Achieve Your Dreams, Be Yourself

About the Author:

Jon Fitzgerald is the Founder of Cause Cinema, connecting audiences to the best in social impact Cinema. He is also the author of Filmmaking for Change.

Be more fulfilled, be a Humanitarian was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Jon Fitzgerald