By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Ben Affleck took a Nightline crew along on his third trip in a year to the Democratic Republic of Congo in an effort to raise awareness about the plight of its people.
In a place where 1,200 people die every day from things like preventable disease (over five million dead in the past 10 years of internal conflict, 16 times as many as in Darfur’s ongoing genocide); in a place where boy children are used as soldiers and girls as militia wives and where two of every three women have been raped; in a place that visually more resembles scenes from the Road Warrior, Affleck says this failing state needs the world’s attention.
Aired last week on ABC, it was not necessarily a Nightline report nor was Affleck acting as its correspondent. The airing was simply meant to record Affleck’s journey to understanding. According to ACB News spokesperson Emily Lenzner, “We basically went with a camera… and followed [Affleck] around. It was his observations, his journey that we documented.”
Determined to get the whole picture, Affleck tried to examine each perspective. In his introductory essay he wrote, "My trip brought me to camps for people displaced from their homes, to rural hospitals, to gold mines, and even to remote operations with the United Nations designed to “sensitize” the most violent and vicious of the foreign-born militia in an effort to encourage them to return to their country of origin. I met with warlords and peacemakers, survivors and aid workers."
Clear in the understanding that his Nightline piece would not turn the Congo around overnight, he is hopeful it may plant some seeds into the consciousness of Americans. “The connected human chain which binds us demands that we contribute, even if only in some small way, to the betterment of the world. Congo is a place that deserves, at the very least, our eyes and our ears.”
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