Ben Affleck is this year’s honoree for The People’s Choice Awards.
Two-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck will receive the third annual People’s Choice Award for Favorite Humanitarian during the live telecast of PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS 2015, from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network.
“We are so pleased to honor Ben with the 2015 People’s Choice Humanitarian Award,” said executive producer Mark Burnett. “This award has become an important part of our show. It highlights a different side of a celebrity and helps bring awareness to a cause that our audience can support.”
It was his work with Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), which he founded in 2010, that tipped the award his way. Ben founded this grant-making and advocacy organization focused on investing in and working with the people of eastern Congo. Since 2007, Affleck has made nine trips to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with a focus on the eastern provinces. He has focused on understanding the causes and consequences of conflict on the continent, and learning about African solutions to the problems affecting the DRC. ECI promotes community-based approaches essential to creating a sustainable and successful society in eastern Congo, and works to increase the quality and quantity of investments in the region.
Over the last five years, ECI has made grants and investments to support local solutions that create smart, effective and sustainable economic and social development opportunities. In partnership, ECI has worked to amplify Congolese voices and share with the world the abundance of proven community-based approaches that are key to creating a peaceful and vibrant society. To date, ECI has made investments to strengthen and revitalize DRC’s cocoa and coffee sectors, help reintegrate former child soldiers into society and address the health needs of woman and children.
Past winners of the award include Sandra Bullock in 2013 in recognition of her work with the Warren Easton High School in New Orleans, and Jennifer Hudson in 2014 to honor her work with the Julian D. King Gift Foundation.
In May 2008, a film crew from ABC’s Nightline joined Ben on a trip to the DRC, meeting with a diverse set of individuals – including President Joseph Kabila; former armed group leader Laurent Nkunda; refugees and internally displaced people; former child soldiers; and leaders from local and international NGOs, among others – to gather a range of viewpoints on the issues in the region. Nightline produced a full episode about the trip narrated by Ben; it aired in June 2008.
In late 2008, he directed a short film and public service announcement, “Gimme Shelter,” about the humanitarian crisis in the DRC. The film was utilized as part of the UNHCR’s international campaign to aid those displaced by violence.
Affleck has testified before Congress three times to advocate for U.S. and international engagement in Congo, most recently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2014. In addition to extensive travel throughout the DRC, Ben’s learning and advocacy trips have taken him to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zanzibar. He is a longtime political activist and strong supporter of many charitable organizations, such as Feeding America, A-T Children’s Project, and the Jimmy Fund.