Charlize Theron, 44 is having an amazing year. Her role in Bombshell was a knockout and she’s an Oscar frontrunner with SAG and Golden Globe nominations in the best actress category.
An affectionate parent to her young children, 4-year-old August and 7-year-old Jackson, her work with the her foundation, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Program (CTAOP), helps her stay focused and grounded. The little bit of work done for people who so desperately need it, keeps her going.
CTAOP launched in 2007 helps in AIDS education, prevention and support for those affected by the disease. The organization is focused on South Africa, where Charlize was born and raised, with 19% of the population between ages 15-49, are HIV positive as per national statistics. The organisation wanted young people to talk about things they could control and save their own lives. Theron feels that South Africa is very conservative when it comes to that kind of conversation.
THE AFRICA OUTREACH PROGRAM
The group conducted classes in their first mobile clinic, although the early resistance faced was heart-breaking. She recalls sitting in the first class and nobody said a word as they were embarrassed, having been told their whole lives that this is a taboo subject. Despite early obstacles, they persevered and saw progress in a short time. Progress is slow, but the stigma is terrible when it comes to HIV unfortunately. The Program is slowly and surely dismantling this idea of being “damaged” if you belong to a family afflicted by HIV. There are mistruths about what it means to be infected, or socially ostracized. Young people try to push the message forward.
Since 2007, in partnership with 10 locally established charities to expand their work, CTAOP has reached over 2 million teenagers, and provided them access to phones and computers to safely ask questions. In 2019, they launched a scholarship program for strong potential kids who lack the means to continue their education, inspired by a young woman, at a summit to address the problems facing them. George recalls this young woman standing up and sick of waiting. Tomorrow, she wanted to work on this. Charlize and others demanded to know how they could help young leaders like her? That moment gave birth to their scholarship program.
Program partners nominate young leaders, and CTAOP provides full scholarships for college education in any area of study. The only commitment is some community project to be done during their study years. The first cohort of scholars emerged in 2019 and this month, the next cohort of scholars is being interviewed. Watching Theron interact and talk to the kids is amazing to watch and her connection with them is always incredible. Despite the age gap, and her absence from South Africa for many years, they connect with her by being proudly South African. Theron’s activist inspiration is Gerda, her mother and it’s a legacy she hopes to pass on her kids as this is how she was taught as the right thing to do. Her passion for the task keeps her grounded during a busy awards season when she feels ridiculously spoiled and makes it even more blessed to be able to give back.
Photo Source : https://charlizeafricaoutreach.org/