One should look no further for proof of Ben Affleck’s genuine concern on the situation in the Congo than this essay recently written for TIME magazine. It’s an eloquent and educational piece that spells out the challenges facing the war-torn region, the desperation of its people, and the hope for its future. Here’s the first portion of his essay:
“The picture of the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has grown tragically familiar: a region with great natural wealth, driven by war, racked with hunger and traumatized by a long history of colonial abuse, postcolonial kleptocracy and plunder. In the past 10 years alone, millions have died here, and more die each day as a result of the conflict. Most die not from war wounds but from starvation or disease. A lack of infrastructure means there is little medical care in the cities and none in rural communities, so any infection can be a death sentence. The most vulnerable suffer the worst. One in five children in Congo will die before reaching the age of 5and will do so out of sight of the world, in places that camera crews cannot reach, deep in a vast landscape and concealed under a canopy of bucolic jungle.
It is common in the West to read about African lives in grim statistical terms, so we’ve become inured to these huge numbers of deaths. Making matters worse, the conflict in Congo is often seen as a hopelessly byzantine African tribal war, encouraging the damning notion that nothing will ever change. This, of course, creates a sense of hopelessness and nothing cuts down on humanitarian, foreign and development assistance so much as the jaded diminution of hope. The nation most in need of investment gets the least by the cruel logic that it is the most broken. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately fosters indifference in the guise of wisdom.
That should not be the case in Congo.”