Ben Affleck has landed an award for his tireless charity work helping the people of eastern Congo.
The actor was honored at Sunday night’s Starkey Hearing Foundation’s So the World May Hear Awards Gala at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in Minnesota.
Ben set up the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) with businesswoman Whitney Williams in 2010, and it marked the first U.S. based advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo. One of the ECI’s projects has been partnering with the Starkey foundation to bring hearing aids to people in the war-torn area.
“(Working with the Congolese people has been) one of the greatest, most awe-inspiring experiences of my life,” Ben told People before the event.
Batman star Ben left new girlfriend, Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus, at home for the event, which featured Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler as one of the night’s entertainers.
Ben has so far visited Congo 10 times, and the 44-year-old explained to People that it’s important for him to get his children, Violet, 11, Seraphina, eight, and five-year-old Samuel, interested in the cause.
“I think helping my children expand their consciousness of other cultures, struggles, and issues outside of their own and outside of our country is one of the most important responsibilities I have as a parent and as a citizen ” now more than ever,” he said. “With each trip I take, I always try to keep in mind that I not only have a chance to encourage positive change in Congo when I go, but to also raise a level of appreciation, awareness, empathy and reciprocity from within my own home.
“For their part, my kids are amazing ” always asking a million questions, wanting to see photos and hear stories. I can’t wait for them to be old enough to experience Congo for themselves.”
Ben shares his three children with estranged wife Jennifer Garner, who won a Starkey Hearing award last year.