Celebrities for charities

It is rare for Ethiopians to see their celebrities going beyond their comfort zone to help needy people by mobilizing resources using their fame. This is changing now. The Likes of Liya Kebede, Chachi Tadesse and Anna Getaneh, pictured above in that order with children, are some of the celebrities known for their active role in charity. It is rare for Ethiopians to see their celebrities going beyond their comfort zone to help needy people by mobilizing resources using their fame. This is changing now. The Likes of Liya Kebede, Chachi Tadesse and Anna Getaneh, pictured above in that order with children, are some of the celebrities known for their active role in charity.

Last Easter, when Christian Ethiopians were celebrating the feast, Yoseph Gebre, a young musician who now hosts a show called ‘Jossy in the House’ on EBS television, stunned his audiences. On his show, he moved many audience members –by facilitating the delivery of a furnished house to the orphaned children of Manalemosh Dibo, a beloved traditional music singer who died in 2009

This good deed, among others, has given Yoseph the admiration of many. 

Celebrities, such as artists, athletes, politicians, and activists, are in a unique position to influence others and make a difference in people’s life. Their capabilities in mobilizing resources and catching their fans’ attention to act and bring about change to some social and economic challenges are enormous. Passionate fans, especially young people, usually try to emulate their idols, not only in appearance and style, but their beliefs and actions as well. 

Bob Geldof, the Irish musician, singer-songwriter, activist, and occasional actor, has been a prime example of the reach celebrities have in influencing change. Bob’s brainchild, the Live Aid Concert, which was a large concert staged simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, helped to support the 1984 famine victims in Ethiopia. By using his fame he was not only able to organize one of the biggest, most ambitious concerts ever staged, he was also able to change the intensity of individual contributions after even the concert started. It was known later that USD300 per second have been poured to the fund raising program watched by 1.4 billion people after he spoke to the audience.

Concerning the philanthropic acts of Ethiopian celebrities, there is not much of which to speak, but there are some efforts being made to raise awareness on certain issues. Chachi Tadese, a musician, model and fashion designer, focuses on street children; international Super model, Liya Kebede, on the health and well-being of mothers and new born children; artist Sileshi Demissie (aka Gash Abera Molla) on environmental protection; and former super model Anna Getaneh founded the Ethiopian Children Fund Project, which provides education, boarding, vocational training, a clinic and agricultural program for vulnerable children. 

When Chachi first got back to Ethiopia after a long stay in the United States, she was distract in the plight of street children she saw. Since 1993, she has prepared several music concerts to raise funds for the cause and has been able to establish a children’s home called Hohet Tesfa, which literally means “a gate of hope,” in collaboration with the Christian Relief and Development Association (CRDA). 

Liya Kebede, though her fame as a world-renowned super model, has committed herself to raising awareness to the issues of maternal and newborn health.  She established the Liya Kebede Foundation, a philanthropic organization which seeks to reduce maternal and newborn child mortality in the developing world. Her endeavours have a global reach and have garnered her much praise and media attention, especially when she took on the role of Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health with the World Health Organization. 

Sileshi Demissie has been involved with efforts to beautify Addis Ababa and protecting the environment throughout Ethiopia. The Gash Abera Molla Project, for clean and healthy environment has inspired many at government, organization and individual level. His cleaning initiatives have been duplicated in many towns and cities across the country, including efforts to plant trees. 

For celebrities, it’s much easier to make an impact through philanthropy, since they already have the public’s attention, which can help create awareness and inspire action. Yet, even in doing good deeds, some celebrities receive criticism for their work, especially those who may not believe in the cause he or she may be pursuing or saying it’s being done solely for the purposes of getting attention.

Yoseph, however, says his philanthropic endeavours are more than just attention-seeking; they’re part of who he is as a person, he said. 

“Helping the public in any way I can is my principle in life . . . and the [faith] people entrust in me has helped me a lot, he concluded”

2nd Year . July 2014 . No.16


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