Featured Cause: Keep a Child Alive*

June 12, 2006 · Print This Article

By Ali Ficklin

Keep a Child Alive was founded in Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002 by Leigh Blake after a mother and child walked into the AIDS Research and Family Care Clinic, a center funded by one of Blake’s previous campaigns, seeking anti-retroviral medicine. The mother knew that without such treatment her son would die but, unfortunately, due to the high cost of the medicines, the clinic couldn’t supply the drugs he needed. The mother had no intentions of leaving the facility without treatment for her ailing son.

Blake had compassion for the strong-willed mother and offered to personally pay for her son’s medicines. Word soon spread about Blake’s good deed and her friends and others, including Alicia Keys, wanted to help sponsor children as well. Not long after that, Blake and Maz Kessler co-founded the Keep a Child Alive campaign, allowing anyone to donate a dollar a day to provide the anti-retroviral drugs to the children at the organization’s treatment sites.

On November 3, 2005, Keep a Child Alive held its annual Black Ball fundraiser. Bono joined Keys via satellite to duet on a special rendition of Peter Gabriel’s "Don’t Give Up" called "Don’t Give Up (Africa)." The song was released exclusively on iTunes on World AIDS Day with all proceeds going to benefit Keep a Child Alive and was co-produced by Keys, the charity’s global ambassador, and longtime U2 producer Steve Lillywhite.

Of the song, Blake, who serves as the organization’s president, told U2.com, "It felt like a song meant to be recorded for Africa and I had been thinking about it for years. I knew this duet was going to be something special but true magic happened in that studio when Alicia and Bono came together. It came from their hearts directly to the African people and you can really hear that compassion in the song."

Keys shared her feelings on the song and charity with U2.com, saying, "I love this song. And I love Bono. I really respect what he has done for Africa and how he has used his fame to do good in the world. I hope I can do half as much in my life. Keep a Child Alive is my passion and my heartfelt mission. I believe AIDS is the most important issue we face, because how we treat the poor is a reflection of who we are as a people. I urge everyone to recognize the extreme disaster Africa is facing and step up for the Motherland."

Other musicians such as Dave Matthews, Coldplay, 50 Cent, Simple Plan and Rod Stewart also support the Keep a Child Alive campaign and can be seen on the foundation’s website, as well as voicing their support in the organization’s commercials that can be seen on MTV and various other cable networks.

For more information on Keep a Child Alive, visit the organization’s website.


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