December 2nd, 2009
12:59 AM ET
Alicia Keys doesn't mince words when it comes to the legacy she hopes to leave. "I want to be known as an incredible global citizen, and a person who has made their mark in an inspiring, positive way," she told CNN this year. That desire was fueled by Keys' first trip to Africa, which prompted the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter to co-found Keep A Child Alive. The charity is dedicated to providing life-changing treatment, care and support to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. So far, the group says, it's helped 250,000 people. That sounds like a lot – and it is – but when you consider an estimated 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV/AIDS, you realize how much more needs to be done.
Keys knows you can't solve such a problem merely by throwing money at it, and she knows first-hand the power of actually seeing the problem, and the victims, up close. So Tuesday – World AIDS Day – as she launched her new album, "The Element of Freedom," she announced a contest through Keep A Child Alive: five winners will get to travel to Africa with her. Fans can enter online at the foundation's Web site, or by sending a text. The $5 text fee will be donated to the charity.
When we cover international relief efforts in this blog, we hear from some readers who think our resources should go to solving domestic problems, not overseas. Often, there's merit to that argument. But in this case, the severity of the crisis is unquestionable, and unparalleled in the U.S.: more than 13 million Africans have been orphaned by AIDS.
I congratulate everyone who enters this contest. Even if you're not one of the five winners, you've volunteered to meet a problem head-on, and "risk" letting it change your life as it changed Keys'. That kind of spirit, more than donations, is what's needed to solve all manner of problems, foreign and domestic.
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