Alvaro Enciso is an artist. He arrived in the US from Colombia in the 1960s and now lives in Tucson, Arizona on the edge of the unforgiving Sonoran Desert. If you are a migrant, this is one of the deadliest places to journey across the border from Mexico into the United States. Many of those who begin that lengthy walk will not make it – thousands have died in the attempt. Alvaro Enciso feels a very human connection to those lives lost. So every Tuesday, he does something extraordinary. Together with a group of volunteers, Alvaro motors off-road through the dust and the cacti, and plants painted, wooden crosses in the precise locations where Undocumented Border Crossers have taken their last breaths. For Heart and Soul, Linda Pressly travels into the Sonoran Desert with Alvaro Enciso and his team.
Producer & presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer in Arizona: Tim Mansel
(Photo: Alvaro Enciso with one of his crosses. Credit: Tim Mansel)
Turtle Island and the Black Snake
Native American Anishinaabe people have been living around the Great Lakes since time immemorial, following spiritual beliefs centred around the water. But they say their way of life is being threatened by an oil pipeline sitting on the bed of the Straits of Mackinac, a volatile waterway connecting two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
The Line 5 pipeline has been there for 69 years, but only came to public attention after a major oil spill in Michigan led to its discovery. The company that owns the pipeline insist it is safe. But its location is central to the Anishinaabe people’s creation story, positioned as it is in the heart of North America, or Turtle Island as the Anishinaabe call it. They believe they have a sacred oath with The Creator to protect the Great Lakes, which contain a fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. The BBC’s Leana Hosea meets some of the tribes affected in their Michigan reservations and follows their fight to protect their faith and traditions in modern America.
Photo Credit: Gerardo Reyes
One scoop or two
Artist Annie Nicholson's life and work have been shaped by loss after her family were killed in a helicopter crash in New York City in 2011. The grief was overwhelming, but slowly she found a way to live her creative practise.
During the pandemic, as people around the world were coming to terms with their own losses, Annie bought an old ice cream van and set off - serving up mint choc chip and vanilla scoops- and inviting people to talk about big uncomfortable emotions.
Now she is taking the project to New York, to start new conversations over ice cream, and where she will mark the anniversary of her family's death, in this documentary about grief, but above all, survival.
(Photo: Annie Nicholson standing in front of her repurposed ice cream van. Credit: Tara Darby)
Dying in Varanasi
Varanasi is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and considered the spiritual capital of India. While also holy to Buddhists, Jains and many other sects, it is the most sacred city in Hinduism. Said to have been founded by Lord Shiva, for centuries Hindus have made the pilgrimage from all over the world to the banks of the Ganges River. For many of these pilgrims, they know this will be their last mortal journey. In Hindu tradition it is said that to die in Varanasi, one may attain Moksha – an end to the continual cycle of rebirth, and a place in paradise.
These are the stories of those intimately involved in the unique culture of spirituality, death and funerals in the city. We hear from the manager of Mukti Bhawan, one of the so-called Death Hotels which host pilgrims in their final days on earth, alongside personal family accounts of those who have chosen this path and the stories of those who jobs are to cremate the roughly 100 bodies per day at the ancient Burning Ghats, before their remains enter the holy river to pass into the afterlife.
(Photo: Panoramic view across the holy river Ganges on Munshi Ghat in the suburb of Godowlia. Credit: Frank Bienewald/Getty Images)
Me, my autism and cults
By the time Richard Turner was in his mid-30s, he’d given away nearly all of his money to a church. Everything he held dear had been stripped bare by a religious community in the UK which claimed to have his best interests at heart. It took him years to piece together how this could have happened. It was only in recovery that he was diagnosed with autism, which he believes made him more susceptible to coercive control by a group he now regards as a cult.
For Heart and Soul, Richard takes us on his journey of self-discovery, sharing his faith experiences with other ‘cult survivors’, including one US man with Asperger’s Syndrome who has spent most of his adult life ‘cult-hopping’. How common are these extraordinary stories across the world? With very little academic research available, Richard is part of a growing movement working to understand the link between neurodivergence and cults.
(Image: Group Of People Against Blurred Background. Credit: Getty Images / Emmanuel Lavigne / EyeEm)