SEATTLE, Washington (August 31, 2011) — Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness today encouraged Americans to help those in urgent need of assistance in the Horn of Africa. In a video message released Wednesday, the couple said the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa was endangering the lives of some 13 million people, especially children.
"World Vision is supporting long-term programs such as drought-tolerant crops, help for herders' animals, and assistance to families to diversify their income source so that drought doesn’t leave them without an income," said Jackman. "World Vision urgently needs your help to assist those in need."
The severe drought in East Africa is becoming one of the worst disasters to strike the continent in decades. World Vision has been responding to the emergency since February this year. The organization is aiming to help more than 2.5 million people in the three most affected countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. There are also plans to assist more than 400,000 people who need food aid in Tanzania.
“Children are the most vulnerable in times of crisis like this and in the worst hit areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia nearly half a million young people are at risk of malnutrition,” Furness said. “Hugh and I have been to Ethiopia, and we’ve seen first-hand the World Vision staff who work on the ground. They’re at the crisis points now providing lifesaving food and water.”
As World Vision's emergency response continues, the organization launched a social media campaign across the United States and a dozen other nations to increase awareness and raise more funds for the devastating drought. Participants will be invited to skip a meal and donate the sum via text messaging, view and share aid worker videos from the frontlines of the crisis, and pass on their own thoughts using the Twitter hashtag #FamineNoMore and campaign website FamineNoMore.org.
“As we struggle to respond to the worst drought in 60 years, the influence and reach of our Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blogger friends is greater and more critical than ever before," said American aid worker Perry Mansfield, currently serving as World Vision’s drought response director in Nairobi. "As friends ask friends to join the fight, give what they can and keep the conversation alive, we hope to mobilize thousands more people to drive concern and action for the 12 million children and adults stalked by hunger and malnutrition in the Horn of Africa."
The aid agency, which has more than 634,000 Facebook Fans and 23,000 Twitter followers in the U.S. alone, has reached out to donors, youth activists, church supporters, advocacy networks and child sponsors in the U.S. to join this week’s online campaign. Internationally, supporter networks in Canada, Mexico, the UK, Brazil, Spain, Romania, Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and beyond have joined in the campaign to spread awareness, raise critically needed funds and stand in solidarity and prayer with the children and families in the Horn of Africa. The campaign runs through August 31, but organizers hope participants will keep the online conversation going well into September, as famine conditions are spreading in Somalia and the regional hunger crisis shows no immediate signs of easing.
"Simply seeing the images of starving children may not empower people to action," said Tara Gajadhar, World Vision's social media manager in the United States. "We want to help people connect to the issue and be able to do something that feels and is substantial – including contributing, sharing information and getting others to do the same. Social networking tools are key to empowering people of all ages to help tackle the first famine of this generation."
World Vision has appealed for USD$100 million globally to fund its relief response in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, targeting 2.5 million of the most affected, particularly children. The public can participate by texting "FAMINE" to "20222" to make a $10 donation for famine relief; or by visiting www.worldvision.org or www.FamineNoMore.org.
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To support World Vision's relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, please visit www.worldvision.org, call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453) or text "4AFRICA" to 20222 to donate $10.
About World Vision World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor— regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.For more information on their efforts, visitWorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews