A month or two ago I had the opportunity to hear Charlize Theron speak about her Africa Outreach Project (thank you Pat!). Other than being hot and seemingly down to earth, I was mostly impressed by the passion she has for the work her non profit is doing.

Right now they are still in developing stages, so they have limited their project to certain areas of South Africa, but hope to branch out to other parts of Africa once their project takes off.

So what are they doing? Basically, they provide health education to children. You know that health class we take in 8th grade, that’s required education? Well children in Africa are never exposed to that class. Why? Social mores, lack of resources, lack of will, etc. The main purpose of this class is to teach kids how to avoid contracting or spreading HIV/AIDS. Teenagers are taught the basics regarding safe sex, and are given condoms. It’s taken AOP time to win over the populations with which they work, since most children, adults, and elders of the community see such educational topics of taboo, but they are beginning to see the benefits of it and have started to embrace such educational resources.

Charlize shared several anecdotes, but one of the ones that struck me the most was about one teenager who told Charlize that he was in no danger of getting AIDS because he practiced safe sex…by washing his condom after each use. Charlize shared that what broke her heart was the fact that here was a young man who thought he was taking control of his life by practicing safe sex, without knowing that washing a condom is not enough. This is why a project such as this one can have such an enormous impact on such a large population.

I encourage you to check out the AOP’s website, see what they’re doing and how, and see how you can help.

I highly encourage you to check out their online store, they have cool shirts and some great Africa themed TOMS shoes. I’m wishing I had saved my Christmas money so I could get them!

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