Photo: Angelina and Brad are spending a lot of time in places less glamourous than the red carpet.
Top 8 Globe-Trotting Givers
by Joe Galbo
This past Easter, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit to the people of Sarajevo, Bosnia as goodwill ambassadors for the UN. It was just one of the latest examples of celebrities using their status to do something to make the world a better place. Whether it's Africa, the Congo or Iraq, certain celebrities go above and beyond the call of duty – to help those in need. Here's our list of the most giving globe trotters.
Bono is, without a doubt, the most recognizable celebrity contributor to global issues. He's founded numerous non-profit international aid organizations including the ONE Campaign and DATA. It seems there isn't a war-torn or disease-ridden country in the world that Bono has not aided in some way. He visited Sarajevo shortly after the Yugoslav Wars ended in 1995, has been working in Africa to fight AIDS for decades and co-wrote a song with GreenDay to support New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Bono has found himself the butt of a number of jokes about his willingness to give most famously by both Comedy Central's South Park and Fox's Family Guy. Still, it's no joke – there's no telling how many lives his generosity has touched through his years of philanthropic work.
Oprah Winfrey started Oprah's Angel Network in 1998 to encourage people to make a difference in their world by giving to the needy. In 2005 it was estimated she gave $303 million dollars to various charitable causes around the world, reportedly ranking her as one of the world's most philanthropic celebrities. In 2007, Winfrey opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. The academy is a boarding school for underprivileged girls who show that they have what it takes to be leaders.
3. Sean Penn
When you give so much that it becomes fodder for satire you know you've been doing something right. Regardless of what you think of his politics (or his hilarious portrayal in Team America), there's no denying Sean Penn has done his fair share when it comes to supporting global causes. Whether it was visiting Iraq before and after the US invasion in 2003 or rushing to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help get people food and water Penn has been there more than Anderson Cooper.
Most recently, Sean has been in Haiti with the Jenkins-Penn Haiti Relief Organization which he co-founded. Helping run one of the biggest relief organizations on the island, he plans to stay in the country until at least mid-April if not longer.
4 & 5. Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie
By now Brad and Angelina's aid work in foreign countries is no secret. Their aid tours have taken them all over the world, from Africa to Sarajevo. While rumors fly about their troubles at home, there's no mistaking their sincerity when it comes to helping others. Pitt built dozens of houses in New Orleans following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. Currently, there is no other Hollywood couple so public about their support for global issues. Who else sells their baby photos for millions and then donates them to charity?
6. Stephen Colbert
You've got to love Stephen Colbert. In all of Hollywood there may be no bigger supporter of US troops. Besides doing a week of shows from war-torn Iraq in 2009, Stephen also uses donorschoose.org to raise money for school supplies for the children of soldiers, sells WristStrong bracelets to support the Yellow Ribbon fund, which helps injured veterans, and donated the iTunes money generated by the Iraq week's episodes to the U.S.O.
Colbert's visit marked the first time in U.S.O. history that a nonnews show was filmed, edited and broadcast in an active combat zone. When asked about the tricky balance between being sincere and playing a character that is utterly insincere Colbert said, “The best way I can show gratitude is to do my show the best I can and make them laugh. If I tried to tailor my material to people in the Army, there’d be two things. A, that’d be patronizing. And B, I’d be wrong.”
7. Jude Law
In 2007 Jude Law snuck off to Afghanistan to film a documentary about UNICEF's preparations for the 2007 UN International Day of Peace. He returned in 2008 to premier the film and has since continued to promote UNICEF's Peace Day. The trip was kept secret due to security concerns and details about Law's visit were not released until the star and crew were back in the UK.
"When I left Kabul last year, I was hugely moved not by the conflict that I have read so much about, but by the people's courage and the people's sense of hope," Law told reporters while in Kabul. "It seemed that they really want to make this day, the Peace Day, work. And they did. People recognize the day, because they recognize that lives could be saved."
8. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is one of those actors who really doesn't get a fair shake. I mean sure he's done a lot of lack-luster movies, but you know what? He's a pretty stand-up guy. Since 2007 Affleck has visited the Congo five times in an effort to find ways to aid the humanitarian crisis there. This past March, he announced that he would be starting a foundation called the Eastern Congo Initiative. His partner in the endeavor is Howard G. Buffett, son of the "Oracle of Omaha" himself, investor Warren Buffett.
Affleck's foundation will provide funding to relief organizations working within the communities of the Congo. He feels that those are the people best equipped to solve the countries humanitarian problems since they are doing the most hands on work.The eastern Congo region suffers from slavery and child sex trafficking among other atrocities.
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