“I’ve been called a lot of things in my life,” Ben Affleck said at Wednesday’s People’s Choice Awards, “but I’m not sure that ‘humanitarian,’ until recently, has been one of them.”
The actor’s Batman v Superman paramour, Amy Adams, presented him with the favorite humanitarian award in recognition of his work for the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), which he founded in 2010.
“The same qualities that make my friend Ben Affleck a phenomenal actor, director and writer are also what make him an extraordinary humanitarian,” said an emotional Adams. “He puts his heart and soul into everything he does. When Ben heard about the crisis in the eastern Congo – where over five million people have died due to violence and disease – he didn’t just write a check.”
She continued, “He dove in head-first, completely immersing himself in the problems, meeting with the Congolese leaders and ex-warlords, child soldiers and refugees to comprehend everything he could about the issues that plagued the area.”
Adams went on to call the ECI “game-changing,” adding: “It’s making it possible for kids to go to school, helping businesses flourish and giving millions of abuse victims a voice to finally be heard, all thanks to Ben. In his words, this is a country of survivors. Helping them survive and thrive is his legacy.”
“Eastern Congo is one of the most damaged places in the world,” said Affleck in a taped segment that aired before his appearance on stage to accept his award. “I thought, ‘If there’s ever a place that needed assistance, this is it.’ ”
The Eastern Congo Initiative is an advocacy and grant-making initiative that seeks not only to raise funds and provide aid to the Congolese but also to influence policymakers in the United States to make life better for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It’s important for me to try my hand at philanthropy because I want to leave behind a record of someone who did more than just gobble up stuff for themselves. I realized that a life lived for yourself is not much of a life,” Affleck, 42, said.
On being called a humanitarian, “it’s something I’ve had a hard time accepting,” said Affleck, who also won the award for favorite dramatic movie actor for his lead role in Gone Girl. “I’ve had the privilege of working alongside so many incredible people in the Congo and all over the world who, I assure you, are far more deserving.”
He continued, “I’ve been lucky to spend time working with real humanitarians. People who, in the face of incredible challenges and war and poverty and disease, dedicate every waking moment to rebuilding their country and a better future for their families, and that’s really on whose behalf I want to accept this award – on half of the people of the Eastern Congo Initiative and all of our partners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”