By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Celebrities who embrace humanitarian causes attract both criticism and praise. Many question whether they’re motivated more by the publicity rather than a genuine concern for humanity. But then, some celebrities are so famous they don’t need extra attention.
And many do seem to care deeply about their chosen cause, especially those who give their time so generously. Some are even willing to get arrested, although the consequences for a film star are far less devastating than for ordinary citizens.
When celebrities do adopt a cause, it’s certainly good news for that particular organisation and the needy who will ultimately benefit. These stars have enormous influence and help highlight crucial domestic and international social issues.
One of the world’s top 10 celebrities famous for their humanitarian work is Ben Affleck. In 2010 he launched the Eastern Congo Initiative to help people affected by war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which the actor referred to as the “one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world.”
He has visited the country several times and in 2008 produced the short film Gimme Shelter, which captures the suffering of Congolese people displaced by the war. Affleck intended the film to raise worldwide awareness about the conflict and raise funds for the UN High Commission for Refugees.
Affleck has testified before US Congress three times to advocate for U.S and international engagement in Congo, most recently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2014. In addition to extensive travel throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Affleck’s learning and advocacy trips have taken him to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Republic of Congo, and Sudan and Zanzibar.
He is a long-time political activist and strong supporter of many charitable organisations, such as Feeding America, A-T Children’s Project, and the Jimmy Fund.
With Ellen DeGeneres, Ben launched the “Small Change Campaign” to benefit Feeding America.
Affleck took part in the “Stay Close” campaign for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Ben supports the UNHCR’s Gimme Shelter campaign.
“I think the more painful something is, the more you want to distance yourself from it,” he says.
“I think the hard part is actually to let some of that go and to realise that when you see some of these images of the people suffering in some way or another, to kind of dealing with (those circumstances) in a pretty brave and enduring way,” Affleck adds.