PAVIA, Italy — Singer-songwriter Bono is both a visionary and global poverty campaigner. After witnessing the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979, a performing event to raise money for Amnesty International, Bono felt motivated to engage in charitable efforts of his own. Bono’s history of charitable work shows his humanitarian side and commitment to reducing global poverty.
Bono’s History of Charitable Work
In 1986, Bono traveled to Ethiopia to work with World Vision in reducing poverty. Here, he developed an education initiative consisting of “one-act plays and songs to spread information on health, hygiene and other issues,” Look to the Stars says.
He also involved himself in singer-songwriter Bob Geldof’s charitable Band Aid and Live Aid projects. By assisting Geldof in planning the 2005 Live 8 project, he maintained his commitment to charitable activity. More than 1,000 artists performed as part of the Live 8 event, which Geldof organized to raise awareness of global poverty and poverty-related issues impacting Africa.
In 2004, Bono co-founded ONE, a nonprofit that works to end global poverty, especially among girls and women. Rather than asking for monetary support, ONE engages in advocacy and lobbying efforts to get governments to increase their aid to the underprivileged.
The Work of ONE
The organization, which consists of 1,000 global activists, saw significant success in 2021 alone. ONE garnered $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education and pushed for increased funding for international development in the EU budget of 2022. ONE Global Activists carried out more than “5,500 online and offline actions” despite the pandemic’s challenges. These activities included delivering “hundreds of handwritten letters to decision-makers and speaking at high-level meetings,” the ONE annual 2021 report says.
“Bono’s lobbying, combined with the work of ONE’s grassroots membership, has helped to ensure the passage and funding of government policies and programs, such as the United States PEPFAR program (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), that have helped to save tens of millions of lives over the past 20 years,” according to the Fulbright Association.
Bono and ONE have also advocated for a stronger response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working to ensure that developing countries have access to critical vaccines and support for economic recuperation. In March 2021, ONE launched the Pandemica campaign to raise global awareness about vaccine access inequalities. ONE partnered up to develop a “series of short, animated films in multiple languages.”
The ONE annual report explains, “Pandemica is an animated world that brings to life the realities of high-priced vaccines and rich countries hoarding all the effective treatments. At a time when the world was overwhelmed by a constant stream of paralyzing messaging, this unique and creative approach helped break through the complexities of vaccine equity and COVID-19 fatigue.”
Efforts to Fight HIV/AIDS
According to the World Health Organization, In 2021, 1.5 million people contracted HIV and 650,000 people died due to the direct/indirect consequences of HIV. At the end of 2021, the world noted 38.4 million persons with HIV, with the majority (25.6 million) living in the African region.
Bono co-founded RED, which is ONE’s sister organization, in 2006, to garner the help of the private sector to fight the global AIDS epidemic. Since its founding, RED has worked with illustrious people and businesses to produce RED-branded goods and events, with the proceeds going to the Global Fund, one of the most significant health funders in the world. The Global Fund has been able to enhance the lives of more than 245 million people thanks to the almost $700 million that RED has raised throughout the years.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, which increased poverty, the number of individuals living in extreme poverty had reduced during the previous 30 years. The pandemic worsened global inequality for the “first time in decades” since it disproportionately harmed the world’s poorest citizens, whose losses of income were twice as severe as that of the world’s wealthiest. The most impoverished people experienced setbacks in health and education, which could impact lifetime income potential if unaddressed.
A Celebrity Humanitarian
For his musical work and advocacy, Bono received numerous honors, including the Legion d’Honneur designation from the French government in 2003, the Person of the Year award from TIME Magazine in 2005 (shared with Bill and Melinda Gates) and an honorary knighthood from the British government in 2007.
Bono is respected globally for his efforts to fight poverty. He has used his success in music to promote awareness of extreme poverty and encourage activism. Bono’s history of charitable work demonstrates his ability to use his celebrity status and resources as a positive influence for social change. Bono’s impact on poverty during the last two decades is significant. His efforts show no sign of slowing down and it seems likely that he will continue his effective activist role for years to come.
– Frida Sendoro