Case Studies : Marlena Hellebo’s story

The Cause: 
Ex animo” is a Latin expression that means “from the heart,” and looking back at the origins of Marlena’s Ex Animo Foundation, established back in 2003, it’s easy to see why she chose the name. Quite simply, the poor and needy children she met at a centre in India touched her heart. The Foundation’s story began with Marlena’s first visit to Udavum Karangal, a centre for needy and destitute children in Chennai, India. Through her Foundation, Marlena has supported the centre ever since. But at the same time, she could also see the need to take on a bigger and broader role – generating publicity to help raise funds not only for this centre, but also for the many others struggling to look after destitute and orphaned children in India and Africa.
The Project: 
To take on this huge task, Marlena has turned to film and, in particular, to independent film-maker James Goldcrown. Part-funded through her Foundation as well as other film bodies, James’s moving film To Die No More, about the lives of children in a hospice in South Africa with HIV/AIDS, has been screened at many festivals and events, and broadcast on cable television. It has won two major awards, but more importantly has also helped to raise both public awareness and a very large amount of money.
The Results: 
With a good deal of practical advice and assistance from GivingWorks, Ex Animo Foundation has now made two films, and Marlena and James have been back to South Africa recently to distribute funds raised and to do more research into the continuing need for antiretroviral drugs. “It is no exaggeration to say that my Foundation could not have succeeded without GivingWorks,” Marlena says. “Thanks to the tax relief I was able to obtain, the film-making money went 28% further.”