Idris Elba was one of the first celebrities to report a coronavirus diagnosis. Since then, his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba also contracted the disease, and the two have been stuck in New Mexico recovering, away from their London home and 6-year-old son.

But, on top of recovering from COVID-19, Elba and his wife have taken on new roles as United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors to argue for support for rural farmers and food producers who have been affected by the pandemic.

The couple has teamed up with the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development to launch a $40 million fund, and together they hope to raise up to $200 million. The couple believes that the poor and working class people who work in farming in rural areas are some of the most at risk of contracting the virus and suffering from its economic effects.

“If you imagine being in a village where no one even knows the name of your village or your population, and that you live in a slum where there is one room and six of you live in it,” he said. “Social distancing is almost laughable.”

The couple has seen what the IFAD has been able to do first hand in Sierra Leone, when they visited with the UN in December. Elba’s parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana and Dhowre Elba is of Somali descent.


In an April interview with the BBC, Elba pointed out that countries need to care for themselves, but should use “forward planning” to prepare to help rural countries.

“No man is an island,” Elba said. “We’re all part of this world.”

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