What do Akon, Alicia Keys and Angelina Jolie have in common? Well, you’re right, they’re all magnificent at what they do. But they also find ways to use their creative influence to solve social issues.
This year R&B singer, Akon, launched his Lighting Africa project which will bring electricity to 600 million people in Africa. He also started the Solektra Solar Academy which is helping train African engineers. This inspirational artist and philanthropist is using his influence to change and revive Africa.
Grammy Award-winning songtress, Alicia Keys, is a HIV advocate. She is the co-founder of Keep a Child Alive and has been raising awareness for HIV/AIDS since 2003. She supports children and families in Africa and India that are affected. Her heart for people doesn’t end there; she has also partnered with The Kaiser Family Foundation for an initiative called “Empowered”, educating women of colour about HIV through public advertisements, social media and community programs.
Angelina Jolie is a Oscar-winning actress, humanitarian and advocate for so many refugees around the world. Not only is she beautiful but she is an amazing mother who refused to allow her label to box her. Now, she’s a human rights supporter, holding the title of Ambassador by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). As an ambassador she has toured UNHCR refugee operations in Balkans, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan and Ecuador. As a social activist she has been able to turn the attention to the living conditions of over 35 million refugees with half being children.
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There’s a long history of creatives who have used their influence or creativity to shed led on social issues. Look no further than the roots of rap, reggae, poetry and painting. We’re all given talents and gifts we get to exercise on this planet while we are here and we’re all given the same amount of hours a day. When it comes to people, there’s always a need to be better, make better and live better. As a public speaker and an award winning photographer with a platform and influence in my city, I’m determined to continue my quest to show people they can be better by educating them about their value and the dangers of sex slavery and human trafficking.
I will never forget where I started my journey. From a war child to a “Warrior Mom” as I call myself. I’m a survivour of the Ugandan Civil War. With my father and brother, we escaped the gun fire and came out of the house as the only surviving family on our street. This world can be very sick and I’ve seen it from the time I was a child how sick people can get and how children get left behind, much like what’s been happening in Syria. My heart leaps and if I could I would adopt a few children.
I have been privileged to use my art to raising funds for charities such as Sick Kids and Canadian Cancer society. In 2011, I had the great pleasure to travel in Kolkata, India to show love and work on the rescue of women who were sold into sex slavery in Kolkata. The mission was exhausting and very emotional but each day we worked harder to rescue the women and spent time talking to them about their worth and value. I returned back to my home in Canada and was never the same. As a mother to four children I decided it was my responsibility to take action and change the world while being a mentor to so many young vulnerable people. I began researching on human trafficking and found out that there was a need for awareness and information, even within my own city. I recently took part in the A21 Walk Against Human Trafficking founded by Christine Cain that’s now in 22 countries. We all have the power to be socially responsible and influence our world.
Here are some tips on how you can also have an impact and make a difference:
1. Determine what it is you stand for and why it is important to you
2. Research on the social issue and it’s effects
3. Look for opportunities to use your creative sources by either creating platforms or volunteering with organizations
4. Make a life long commitment to change
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
― William Wilberforce
By Belinda Barrocks
Belinda “Kamshuka” Barrocks is an award-winning photographer, entrepreneur and community leader and is the winner of 2014 Black Canadian Best Photographer Award. She has appeared in several media interviews and various articles, positively influencing and challenging youth with their dreams and passions. Belinda Barrocks is known for bringing her photography and message to Dubai, the Island of Bahrain, the Bahamas, South Africa and Uganda. She has had success with her gallery shows for charities such as Sick Kids Canada and hosting branding and image workshops in the city of Toronto.