Editor’s note: In partnership with YPIA, we are especially delighted to share this list.
YPIA is once again happy to announce its top five young megastars under 40 years old who take time out of their busy schedules to help the African continent. This is an annual award and serves as a precursor to the May release of YPIA’s top 35 under 35. And the winners are:
Jessica Alba, 31
Jessica, who turns 32 on 28 April, has been involved in Africa for several years. In 2010, as Co-Chair of 1GOAL, Jessica went on a campaign to provide education to all children. She joined the ONE team in Senegal and Ghana, and spent a lot of time in South Africa. In 2013, Jessica became the newest global ambassador for Earth Hour, the world’s largest mass participation event that has become the iconic symbol of people’s commitment to protect the planet. She also helped bring awareness to the STUDIO AFRICA initiative by Diesel+EDUN that produces a collection that threads ethical consciousness with creativity. Keep up the good work Jessica and we hope to see you once again in South Africa in the near future!
Natalie Portman, 31
Natalie is well known for her commitment to social issues and has been a long time friend to Africa. She is an ambassador for FINCA International, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, an organization that provides microloans to women in developing countries. She traveled to Uganda in July 2007 as part of FINCA’s Village Banking Campaign to mobilize the people and resources needed to bring financial services to one million of the world’s lowest-income families. She is a firm advocate of microfinance. Natalie is also an ambassador for Shoes4Africa, which focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness, education, women’s empowerment and peace, and health. Their main health initiative is giving East Africa it’s first ever public teaching children’s hospital. “A healthy Africa is one that will be self-reliant and a strong foothold for the future generation of positive change,” writes Shoe4Africa.
In 2011, Natalie became an ambassador for Free the Children that helped led to the creation of the Kisaruni All-Girls Secondary Boarding School in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya. She is passionate about children and education, but also about Africa. Natalie is quoted as saying, “As a mother and the organization’s newest ambassador, I am grateful to Free the Children for giving me the opportunity to channel my passion and love of children into meaningful action that furthers the education and leadership of young women for years to come. I hope others join me in supporting this important cause.” We hope so too Natalie!
Angelina Jolie, 37
Angelina is obviously no stranger to humanitarian work and Africa. It was in 2001 when filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia that Angelina became aware of the numerous humanitarian crises around the globe. One of her first humanitarian visits to Africa was an 18-day field mission to Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Angelina was later named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in Geneva.
Fast-forward to 2013 and Angelina recently joined up with Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. While there, the two spoke to rape victims at a refugee camp and laid wreaths at the Gisozi genocide memorial in Rwanda. They are helping to lead a joint campaign for international action against sexual violence in war zones. Angelina, you are a true inspiration!
Katy Perry, 28
An actress and a singer, Katy was recently part of a UNICEF mission to Madagascar to raise awareness about the issues facing children in the impoverished country. She visited a wide range of UNICEF programs from education to hygiene. “In less than one week here in Madagascar, I went from crowded city slums to the most remote villages and my eyes were widely opened by the incredible need for a healthy life — nutrition, sanitation, and protection against rape and abuse — which UNICEF are stepping in to help provide,” said Perry. “I am grateful to UNICEF for giving me the opportunity to see first-hand how their programs make a real difference in children’s lives. Support for UNICEF is saving children, I am a witness to it.”
Katy, the hottest woman of 2013 according to Men’s Health, appears to grow more popular by the day. We can only hope that her love of Africa will continue to grow as well. Hey Katy, perhaps a “Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr Jeffery Sachs in Africa” type documentary soon!? Or Africa tour?!
Lady Gaga, 27
One talented young women that completed an African tour in 2012 is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga. Although labeled as the bride of Satan by some, Lady Gaga donated US$500,000 and 40% of her South Africa shows profits (more than US$4 million) to several anti-hunger foundations in Africa.
Gaga is no stranger to charity. She started the Born This Way Foundation with a personal $1.2M donation and donated another $1M to victims of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated her hometown of New York City. She was rated the most charitable celebrity of 2011 and in the top two in 2012 by DoSomething.org that releases a Celebs Gone Good chart that shows fans how their are performing in charity. I don’t think it will be long before we see Gaga back in Africa flying the humanitarian flag.
Ben Affleck, 40
The “reborn” actor after Argo, many do not know that Ben has been referred to as the Life President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He founded the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) in 2010 after making five trips to the crisis area between 2007-10. The main goals of the ECI are to raise awareness of local community-based organizations in the area that work towards: supporting survivors of rape and sexual violence; returning and reintegrating child soldiers into their communities; running community-level peace and reconciliation programs; increasing access to health care and education; and promoting economic opportunity.
Ben said at the launch of his NGO, “I brought together this unique collection of partners in order to bring their experience in humanitarian relief and sustainable development to bear as we focus like never before on local solutions to challenges in this region. Right now, the attention paid to this crisis doesn’t match the needs of those affected by it. We will raise that attention level, and work with the extraordinary Congolese people who are making a positive difference in their own communities.”
Ben has testified before Congress, been on dozens of TV shows and even written articles for newspapers to help raise awareness about the situation in the DRC. To read Scott’s recent piece on the US in the DRC click here, and please visit the ECI’s website by clicking here.
“We at YPIA would be happy to do whatever is in our power to help Ben and support his goal to empower the people of the DRC,” Scott told the YPIA Publications team. “We are huge fan of Ben, his work, and all he is trying to accomplish.”