Are we living in a Star Wars universe? It sure seems that way sometimes. But with the joy it will be bringing nerds nationwide starting this Thursday, ‘Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’ will also benefit less fortunate individuals overseas.
The Los Angeles premiere of the newest episode, which took place May 12 at the Westwood Village Theatre, benefited Artists for a New South Africa, an organization currently working on several pressing issues affecting African citizens today and operating out of both Africa and the United States.
ANSA wishes to strengthen diplomatic ties between South Africa and other nations, in addition to fighting the threat of HIV/AIDS, improving educational standards and protecting civil rights.
The organization achieves its goals through communication in the public forum in the form of media campaigns and advocacy. Additionally, they provide material aid whenever possible.
Better-known artists in this organization include actors Gillian Anderson, Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard.
In 1989, Woodard and fellow actor Danny Glover, along with several colleagues, came up with the idea for ANSA to respond to a need for greater anti-apartheid support. They began by appealing to the entertainment world for support, and within a year were raising money for the Nelson Mandela Freedom Fund.
When the 1994 elections rolled around, ANSA expanded its repertoire by creating a budget for voter education.
Another noteworthy subset of ANSA is the Amandla Aids Fund, a $2.5 million fund established in 2003 by Carlos and Deborah Santana. It provides free HIV/AIDS treatments, assists orphans affected by the AIDS pandemic and lobbies for AIDS/HIV policies on the government agenda. ‘Amandla’ is a South African term that translates into strength, certainly appropriate for the recipients of the funds.
Today, ANSA is working to develop their newest project, known as It Takes a Village. The focus of ITV is child-run households in South Africa.
It collaborates with local organizations to provide government assistance, scholarships, education and counseling to orphans across the country. Currently, they are launching operations in Ingavuma, a rural area.
Hopefully, ANSA will continue to improve the lives of the underprivileged in creative ways for many years to come, utilizing the tools of advocacy and education to get honest messages across.
To get involved, visit www.ansaafrica.org, where you can sign up to join the mailing list, make a donation, send an advocacy e-mail or even find a way to volunteer or intern.