Image

9:48 AM / Friday September 20, 2019

27 Mar 2010

Ben Affleck launches aid group for eastern Congo

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
March 27, 2010 Category: Diaspora Posted by:

By Jason Straziuso

Associated Press

 

ABOVE PHOTO: Actor Ben Affleck, right, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, sits beside an official of the Eastern Congo Initiative, left, as they listens to a survivor of sexual violence talk, partially seen foreground left, at Aid Group HEAL Africa’s premises in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Affleck launched a new initiative last week to raise money and awareness over atrocities committed against women and children during years of conflict in eastern Congo, Affleck told The Associated Press.

AP Photo/Barbara Kinney

 

NAIROBI, Kenya – Ben Affleck launched a new initiative last Monday to raise money and awareness over atrocities committed against women and children during years of conflict in eastern Congo, Affleck told The Associated Press.

 

The American actor and director spent five days in the country last week, where he met with former child sex slaves and prisoners convicted of rape in the hope of gaining a better understanding of Congo’s troubles.

 

The new foundation — the Eastern Congo Initiative — will support community-based, Congolese groups, said Affleck on the heels of his fifth trip to the country.

 

“It was folks in these communities that were addressing the humanitarian crisis who were doing the most, in my view, to solve it, because they understood the community, because they understood the problem, they were the most dedicated and the most committed because it was their lives,” Affleck told AP over the weekend at Nairobi’s international airport.

 

“Naturally they were best equipped to solve it. Their impediment was they didn’t have the means, the funding,” he said.

 

The new initiative is funded in part by founding member Howard G. Buffett, son of investor Warren Buffet, to whom Affleck pitched his vision of a new aid group by describing eastern Congo’s dire situation.

 

“I want you to know that 3.5 million people have died over the last 12 years. I want you to know about the women who are being raped, about the child soldiers … about the kids I just met who have HIV,” Affleck said he told Buffet. “I kind of bored him for two hours and basically twisted his arm.”

 

Buffet said in a statement that he joined Affleck in the initiative because he believes in supporting locally initiated, sustainable efforts.

 

The 37-year-old Affleck has been traveling to eastern Congo since 2007 and previously directed a short film called “Gimme Shelter” about the humanitarian crisis there. The country has suffered years of violence and its devastating 1998-2002 war split the vast nation into rival fiefdoms and involved half a dozen African armies.

 

Affleck said he was insecure about getting involved at first, because of how little he initially knew and for fear of being seen as an arrogant actor. That’s why he took five trips into the region before launching his project, he said.

 

The Eastern Congo Initiative will also push the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive strategy and show more leadership in the region, he said.

 

Faida Mitifu, the U.S. ambassador to Congo, said Affleck’s initiative would bring “much-needed attention to a region that has suffered for too long.”

 

One person Affleck met with last week was a 19-year-old woman who was abducted at age 15 by a group of rebels from neighboring Rwanda and was forced to serve as a sex slave to six men for about two years.

 

Image

She eventually ran away with only the clothes on her back and was taken in by an aid group called Laissez L’Afrique Vivre — or Let Africa Live — that teaches former child soldiers skills like carpentry and sewing.

 

“A former slave and bush wife to six guys, finds out she’s pregnant and she wanted to die, didn’t think life was worth living, and a nun from the organization came and found her and brought her in,” Affleck said. “She’s now going to law school to try to become a lawyer and she said she wants to do women’s rights.”

 

It’s exactly the kind of aid group that Affleck said his new initiative will support. “I thought these people were pretty great,” he said.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Entertainment

‘I was stupid’: Huffman sentenced to 14 days in prison for college scam

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email By COLLIN BINKLEY BOSTON (AP) — “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman was sentenced...

Commentary

To Be Equal: After Labor Day – Commit to raising full-time workers out of poverty

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email By Marc H. Morial TRICEEDNEYWIRE.COM  “The strongest middle class the world has ever...

Color Of Money

Three emerging smart home trends of 2019

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT If you’re building a new home, you want it to be stylish,...

Health

Six keys to the best possible stroke recovery

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email Strokes change more than 795,000 lives in the United States each year.  In...

Travel

The Two Brown Crayons Tour

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Wilson Peak and the San Juan Mountains, Colorado  (Photo: Robert Cicchetti...

Go With The-Flo

Kerry Washington at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival for the premiere of her movie “American Son”

September 13, 2019

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Kerry Washington (Photo: Tinseltown / Shutterstock) By Florence Anthony According to...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff