A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Actor Djimon Hounsou was born in Benin. At the age of 13 he moved to France to receive a better education and was discovered by French fashion designer Thierry Mugler. Djimon has gone on to carve out a successful career as a model and actor. A powerful voice against poverty and injustice, he is a staunch supporter of Oxfam's work.
Djimon travelled to Mali for Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign in 2005, where he met cotton farmers who were suffering because of plummeting prices, and saw how US subsidies adversely affect Africa. He worked alongside farmers, some who make a profit of just 16 cents a day. Malian farmers told Djimon how the little money they earn is not even enough for life's basic necessities: educating their children, paying for medication when they are sick, putting food on the table or fixing a broken well to get clean water.
Following his trip, Djimon became a determined and vocal campaigner. He spoke at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia and went on to lobby world leaders at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles.
He urged industrial nations to boost aid to Africa, cancel debt and remove trade barriers to help lift the continent out of poverty. He spoke as a representative of Africa, who understands the struggle African farmers are faced with.
Although G8 leaders made important progress on aid and debt cancellation, the outcome fell short of the hopes of Djimon and the millions around the world campaigning for a momentous breakthrough, especially on trade issues. Djimon returned to the US to support Oxfam America's work on Farm Bill Legislation, campaigning against US subsidies that hurt farmers in poor countries.
Recently, Djimon began campaigning with Oxfam in the fight against climate change. In 2009, he opened the UN General Assembly meeting on Climate Change in New York with a compelling speech about the impact of climate change on developing nations.
Oscar-nominated for his roles in Blood Diamond (2006) and In America (2002), Djimon has supported a variety of fundraising activities for Oxfam, including donating tickets to the premiere of his movie Push for an Oxfam America e-bay auction.