Keep a Child AliveMulti-award-winning R&B singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, born Alicia Augello Cook, has been a household name since her breakout single “Fallin” in 2001. However, in addition to selling  42 million copies across her seven albums, she also co-founded the Keep a Child Alive (KCA) charity in 2003.

Keep a Child Alive (KCA)

Keys and Keep a Child Alive co-founder and HIV/AIDS activist Leigh Blake met when Blake and U2’s Bono were collaborating on the 2001 revamping of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 single “What’s Going On” as an AIDS awareness charity effort. Blake insisted on bringing Keys into the star-studded affair because of Keys’ newcomer success in the music industry. Blake and Keys remained in touch. When Keys stated her upcoming tour would be making a stop in South Africa, Blake took the opportunity to invite Keys to see the effect of AIDS there. Speaking about the trip, Blake describes visiting clinics in South Africa where women would come to Keys and plead for assistance in securing antiretroviral drugs so that they could live to look after their children.

KCA’s Mission and Vision

KCA aims to properly address and remedy the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa by focusing on treating people, not merely the disease. This essentially means recognizing and addressing the primary causes and underlying conditions driving the epidemic and virus. KCA’s website notes, “The trajectory of HIV and AIDS is closely linked to poverty.” According to the International Labor Organization, the connection between HIV/AIDS and poverty is reflected not only in the inverse relationship between higher infection rates and a reduced number of available workers but also in the effect the virus has on generations long term.

The Broader Impacts of HIV/AIDS

Living in an HIV-affected household increases the likelihood of the disruption of a child’s education in many ways, such as the cost of school becoming untenable due to reduced income in the household and the affected child then being required to work. However, KCA provides education and fosters development for young people and women to earn a living safely since poverty fosters unskilled labor and risky professions, such as sex work, especially among women and children. Additionally, migrant labor and travel for temporary jobs increase the risk of contracting the virus. As it so often does, an unrelenting cycle emerges. With more people contracting HIV/AIDS without appropriate medical treatment, fewer people are able to work and contribute to the economy.

KCA has several locations in Africa. Keep a Child Alive, in partnership with Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTx), provides medical care to women and children forced to relocate, some of whom contracted HIV/AIDS as a result of sexual assaults occurring during brutal attacks in war-ridden areas. With the evolution of WE-ACTx came the inclusion of mental health and psychosocial services. Keep a Child Alive also partners with the Family Care Clinic, providing pediatric HIV services in Kenya and Alive Medical Services in one of the most economically disadvantaged and heavily populated areas of Uganda, which offers “a beacon of hope: free, comprehensive HIV treatment.” 

Fundraising and Support

Keep a Child Alive’s annual fundraiser in New York is called the Black Ball. The gala, a gathering of various artists, celebrities and philanthropists, has included names such as David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Bono, Lupita Nyong’o, Patti Smith, Clive Davis, Padma Lakshmi, Russell Simmons and Adele since its 2004 inception. The Black Ball raised $2.4 million in 2018 alone.

While the Black Ball is its most prominent charity event, KCA also encourages citizens to join in the fight by creating fundraisers as well as showing support by running marathons. KCA knows this is not an easy ask, but utilizing marathons as fundraising increases impact and engagement across the globe.

Along with its mission to support those around the world afflicted and affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, KCA has stepped onto the frontlines during the COVID-19 crisis. In the lingering wake of the pandemic, the charity has delivered emergency relief to those in need by providing more than one million pounds of food supplies to more than 100,000 people across several countries, principally children and youth younger than 16.

The collective efforts of Keep a Child Alive bring hope to those with HIV/AIDS in impoverished regions, staying true to its vision of “helping children and young people reach their potential, and live healthier, happier lives.”

– Tiffany Pate
Photo: Flickr

McCartney's Humanitarian Work
Sir James Paul McCartney, known professionally as Paul McCartney, is a singer, songwriter, poet, bass player and animal rights activist. He is best known for his work with the English rock band The Beatles. During his 63-year-long ongoing career that revolutionized the world of music, McCartney has amassed a fortune of over $1 billion. This drove him to begin making significant charitable donations to organizations. McCartney’s humanitarian work emphasizes spreading awareness about causes for which he advocates.

5 Facts About Paul McCartney’s Humanitarian Work

  1. As of June 2020, Paul McCartney has supported 45 charities. Throughout his life, he has donated millions to several charities and has participated in many benefit concerts, such as Live 8 and Change Begins Within. Change Begins Within was a 2009 benefit concert in Manhattan, New York, hosted by the David Lynch Foundation. It helped raise money and awareness for at-risk youth and encouraged the use of meditation to combat stress and achieve success. Other significant charities and organizations that McCartney has supported include Adopt-A-Minefield, Cruelty Free International, Everyone Matters, Greenpeace, PETA, Red Cross and the St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. McCartney is a patron for Adopt-A-Minefield, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the problems of landmines, raising funds to help survivors of landmine accidents and helping clear landmines. From 2001 to 2005, McCartney performed in five benefit galas for the organization. In total, he helped raise $17 million for the now-inoperative charity.
  2. Paul McCartney is a huge advocate for providing aid for childhood diseases. McCartney has four biological children, Mary, Stella, James and Beatrice, and an adopted daughter, Heather, who is the biological daughter of the late Linda McCartney. McCartney also has eight grandchildren and used them as inspiration for his children’s book “Hey, Grandude!”, which was published in September 2019. His devotion to his own children and grandchildren is evident, but it is also apparent that he cares a great deal for the welfare of children around the world. McCartney’s humanitarian work has included donations to the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, Keep a Child Alive, Children with Leukemia and Teenage Cancer Trust. These are organizations dedicated to focusing on the needs of children affected by significant diseases or disorders. Additionally, in 2012, McCartney performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the Teenage Cancer Trust, helping raise over $382 million.
  3. Paul McCartney’s humanitarian work dates back over 40 years. In 1979, McCartney was one of the lead organizers of the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, a series of concerts that ran from December 26-29, 1979 and took place at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The concerts raised awareness and donations for the victims of war-torn Cambodia (then known as Kampuchea) at the start of the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. The proceeds went directly toward United Nations agencies’ emergency relief work in Cambodia. In addition, in 1989, McCartney participated in a charity version of the song “Ferry Cross the Mersey.” The proceeds made from the single were used to aid victims of the Hillsborough disaster, a human crush that occurred at a soccer match in the Hillsborough Stadium in South Yorkshire, England, killing nearly 100 people. The song held the number one spot on the U.K. chart for three weeks after its release.
  4. Paul McCartney supports the eradication of poverty. McCartney’s humanitarian work also includes dedicating time and money toward helping those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. His most notable involvement with an organization dedicated to ending poverty was when he performed at a Live 8 concert in 2005. Live 8 was a series of benefit concerts organized in support of the U.K.’s Make Poverty History coalition and the international Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaign. The goal of the concerts was to raise $50 billion in aid toward impoverished African countries by 2010 (the concerts raised about $30 billion). McCartney has also supported the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, Aid Still Required and the Prince’s Trust. These organizations assist people in underdeveloped countries and unfavorable socioeconomic situations.
  5. In April 2020, Paul McCartney performed in the One World: Together at Home benefit concert. The current international COVID-19 outbreak has affected people worldwide. Global Citizen, a worldwide movement dedicated to ending poverty by 2030, hosted a charity special in the form of a virtual benefit concert starring many famed musicians. The concert was titled One World: Together at Home. It raised $127 million for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and for charities providing food, shelter and healthcare to those in need. McCartney sang a solo rendition of the Beatles’ song “Lady Madonna” while playing the piano.

Paul McCartney’s humanitarian work proves his unwavering dedication toward improving the welfare of humans and animals alike. His aid has made him one of the celebrities best known for generous donations. His championship for nearly 50 charities and organizations proves how one can use their wealth to better the state of the world.

Kia Wallace
Photo: Flickr