Celebrities don’t just help motherhood en vogue; they also focus attention on causes important to families, such as efforts to end poverty, hunger and childhood disease. And while many of us are familiar with actress Angelina Jolie’s good deeds on behalf of the United Nations, and former model Christy Turlington Burns’ work for CARE, we thought you should know about some other stars’ charitable efforts.
Ending Obstetric Damage: As spokeswoman for the Campaign to End Fistula, singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia has visited Nigeria several times to raise awareness about a devastating condition in which prolonged labor without medical attention causes a hole to develop in the birth canal. Unable to control their feces and urine, women with obstetric fistula are often shunned by others.
Extremely rare in developed countries, the condition affects between 50,000 and 100,000 women each year in developing nations. “Fistula is difficult to talk about,” says Imbruglia. “But that discomfort pales in comparison to what women living with it face every day.” Since the campaign was launched in 2003, about 7,800 affected women have been treated, and progress has also been made in the area of prevention.
Preventing Child Deaths: A longtime UNICEF ambassador, actress Lucy Liu was recently honored by the organization for her “tireless work on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children.” She promotes and supports the Believe in Zero campaign, which aims to put an end to the deaths of 25,000 children each day from preventable causes such as malnutrition, disease and contaminated water. Liu continues to travel widely for UNICEF, blogging and logging video reports from the Ivory Coast, Russia and the Congo.
Taking on Tetanus: She may have raised eyebrows for nursing another woman’s hungry baby during a goodwill trip to Sierra Leone, but actress Salma Hayek was more than happy to make a point by sharing her milk. Because of cultural taboos, many women in this African country breastfeed for only a few months. Partly as a result, the infant mortality rate is the highest in the world.
Hayek, mother of Valentina, toured Sierra Leone with ABC’s Nightline to call attention to tetanus, another contributor to infants’—and mothers’—deaths in developing countries. Since 2008, Hayek has served as spokeswoman for the Pampers One Pack = One Vaccine initiative to help support UNICEF’s mission to eradicate tetanus by 2012.
Advocating for Vaccination: Motivated by her struggle to separate fact from fiction when deciding whether to vaccinate her daughter, Frankie, actress Amanda Peet joined Every Child by Two and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008 to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated on schedule.
“There is a wealth of misinformation about vaccines out there, particularly in Hollywood,” Peet says. “But talking with doctors and reading studies made it clear to us that delaying vaccinations could jeopardize our baby’s life.” As a volunteer spokeswoman for the Vaccinate Your Baby campaign, Peet’s messages have reached 500 million people in less than a year.