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On July 20th, 2011, famine was declared in southern regions of Somalia. The United Nations Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit predicted the famine would grow without increased humanitarian assistance.

Drew Barrymore in Kenya
Drew Barrymore in Kenya

At present, thirteen million people are dying of starvation in the Horn of Africa. Every week thousands of Somalis abandon their homes — many of them trudging for days under the blistering sun, toward refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya in pursuit of water and food.

Two months before the declaration, Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore left for the hunger-ridden region. She revisited Kenya, one of the newest countries ravaged by the drought. There she witnessed the people’s plight to stay alive.

“[We] need to step up our help,” pleaded the UN World Food Programme Ambassador Against Hunger. “There is a catastrophe happening right now.”

Because the UN organization is only financially able to supply food for so many Kenyans, Barrymore is adamant that the rest of the world join her fight against the emergency. She even persuaded the world’s premier excursion magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, to bring the humanitarian crisis to the public eye. The magazine traveled with her to the Kenyan village of Kiltimany.

In 2008, through the Drew Barrymore Education Project, the CoverGirl model gifted one million dollars to the World Food Programme to fight off hunger and boost education in Kenya. Since then, not only has her donation helped refurbish 25 schools around the capital of Nairobi, but her benevolence this summer built a much-needed well in the middle of Kiltimany. Now women of the village do not have to walk four hours, each way, to get water.

Water is just one necessity she has brought to this village – the actress has also unveiled the blueprint for a new school: The Akili Barrymore Primary School.

“People can feel [mistrustful] about sending money into the void of a charity. But when you find something like this that speaks to your heart, it gives you the courage to look beyond your own problems, and take the first small steps to try as an individual to make an impact,” commented Barrymore, upon hearing the hopes and aspirations of the Kenyan children.

Furthermore, the Golden-Globe star has been financially supporting the WFP’s Kenyan School Meals Programme for almost a decade. In May, she bought nutritious lunches for 10,000 children in 20 Kenyan schools for a year.

“A simple, healthy meal in a school is so important. I saw how it changes a girl’s life forever,” reflected Barrymore, “And right now it is such a crucial safety net for the families during this drought crisis.”

Barrymore asks her friends and fans to join her, and give hope to the hungry children in the Horn of Africa: Just five dollars will feed one child in school for one month.

“I can’t think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry,” voiced Drew Barrymore.

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