On Monday, Ben Affleck launched a new initiative to raise money and awareness about the sexual atrocities committed against woman — and a plethora of other social ills — in the war-ravaged Eastern Congo.
The 37-year-old has been traveling to eastern Congo since 2007 and previously directed a short film called Gimme Shelter about the African nation. Affleck spent five days in the country last week, where he met with former child sex slaves and prisoners convicted of rape. The Oscar-winning father of two hopes to bring attention to the crisis in Congo.
The new foundation â€” titled the Eastern Congo Initiative â€” will provide support to community-based, Congolese groups, as well as help survivors of rape and sexual violence and aid former child soldiers reintegrating into society. The initiative also aims to increase access to health care and education, promote economic opportunities, and create community programs.
“The situation in eastern Congo has been neglected for far too long — it is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world,” Affleck said today. “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.”