Since she was named as an Oxfam Ambassador in 2007, Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson has packed numerous fundraising, advocacy and promotional activities into her busy schedule.
A long-time supporter of Oxfam, Scarlett was motivated to get involved by the organization's response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2007, she took a life-changing trip to India and Sri Lanka. She met tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka who were rebuilding their lives after losing their families and livelihoods. She also saw how Oxfam projects such as village irrigation schemes and schools are helping to reconstruct devastated communities.
In India, the BAFTA-winning actress spent a day with young girls at an Oxfam-funded school in Uttar Pradesh that has enabled over a thousand children from the lowest Dalit caste to gain a basic education. Scarlett was so moved by what she'd seen that she made a generous donation, providing three years' funding for the school.
She also met survivors of domestic violence who are part of Oxfam's ‘We Can' campaign, which aims to break down attitudes that support violence against women. In meetings with the Indian Prime Minister, the US Ambassador and the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister she pressed for investment in health and education.
In 2008, Scarlett joined other Oxfam ambassadors in calling on heads of state at the Japanese G8 to respond urgently to global poverty, reminding them that the world's poorest people are the most vulnerable to increased food prices and the negative impacts of climate change. In the same year, together with global figures including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Sir David Attenborough, she signed an open letter urging world leaders at the UN meeting in Poland to tackle climate change. Scarlett has also lent her support to ‘In my Name', a global movement calling on governments to deliver their promises and meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Scarlett's appeal to US consumers on behalf of Oxfam Unwrapped drove over $100,000 in gifts for Mothers Day 2009 and generated worldwide media coverage for the gift catalogue's Christmas promotion. She has contributed to on-line auctions with eBay by donating opportunities to attend the premieres of her films ‘He's Just not that into you' and ‘Iron Man 2'. She has also attended fundraising events and taken part in photo-shoots for Oxfam.
Scarlett has supported Oxfam's Haiti Earthquake Appeal. She recorded a public service announcement urging people to give, and donated tickets to the opening night of her play "A View from the Bridge" to a fund-raising auction. The face of MANGO, Scarlett has also designed an exclusive handbag for MANGO on behalf of Oxfam to raise money for the appeal.
Fighting for food justice
In 2011, Scarlett has joined Oxfam's GROW campaign, saying: “Sharing food is one of life’s pleasures. On a global scale, we don’t share fairly. Close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night. The fact is: the global food system is a broken one. All of us, from Kentucky to Kenya, deserve enough to eat.”
In September 2011, Scarlett travelled to Kenya to see the devastating impact of the severe drought that has hit parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, putting more than 13 million people at risk. She visited Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world. Tens of thousands of Somali refugees have fled to Dadaab to escape drought and famine. She also visited the Turkana region of Northern Kenya, where chronic droughts have destroyed people's lives and livelihoods. Scarlett saw how Oxfam is helping people with emergency aid - providing clean, safe water, distributing cash to help people meet their basic needs, as well as investing in long term projects to help build communities' resilience to droughts - for example by supporting pastoralists to retrain as fishermen and farmers.
“This is a long-term and escalating crisis exacerbated by political conflict, famine and drought that can no longer be ignored," said Scarlett. "Over half the Somalis that have died are children; an entire generation lost. This is no longer an issue that can only garner some attention, some of the time. Extreme action must be taken by the global community now.”
Scarlett's global popularity has helped Oxfam raise awareness around the world about issues that create poverty and world leaders' responsibility to act. Her fund-raising activities and private donations have provided a phenomenal boost to Oxfam's work with poor people.
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