Ben Affleck talks chocolate bars as sustainable aid in Congo
(CBS News) This week, Ben Affleck is making headlines leading up to the premiere of the new film "Argo," which he both directed and starred in. But behind the headlines and across the world, Affleck has been focused on a cause -- and a country -- for years.
CBS News' Seth Doane traveled with Affleck to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has been ravaged by armed conflict, civil war and fighting among rogue militias, including the notorious Lord's Resistance Army. It is estimated that more than three million people have died since 1998 as a result of the conflicts.
When Ben first "stumbled upon some of these statistics," he said he started to grasp the "huge amount of suffering" and was struck by the fact that "it wasn't getting any attention." Affleck said he was motivated further by the gender-based issues he encountered on his visit.
"When I went I found places where there was complete impunity," he said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," "...places where two out of three women had been raped...the gender-based statistics moved me as a husband and as a father."
Tuesday morning, Affleck spoke with the "CTM" co-hosts about his organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), and his mission to raise awareness and generate funding for community based aid groups in Congo. Doane accompanied Affleck as he met with philanthropists and reviewed possible projects in need of funding.
One of EIC's recent ventures is focused on sustainable aid. The organization has connected local cocoa farmers in the Congo, who farm the crop that is eventually turned into chocolate, with chocolate makers across the globe.
"It isn't really aid, " Affleck said. "This is the free market."
He explained the strategy, saying "We hooked up them up with Theo chocolate, who does a great job and we now have our first Congo bar. It's not aid, it's not giving somebody money, it's we're going to get you to a place where you can manufacture on the open market so that you can sell your market...so you have an ongoing business where people can make money through their own work."
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