Start - Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn in Tansania (2005)

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Global community activist and Oscar award winning actor 

Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn visit UAACC/KUJI

 

Arusha Times correspondent

July, 2005  Imbaseni Village

Pete O’Neal and his wife Mrs. Charlotte Hill O’Neal and KUJI Foundation founder Mr. Geronimo ji Jaga, recently hosted Oscar winning actor Sean Penn and his family at the United African Alliance community Center UAACC, located in Imbaseni Village, Arusha, Tanzania.
Sean Penn, who won the Academy Awards Oscar for the 2004 hit movie, Mystic River and is currently starring with Nicole Kidman in the block buster thriller, The Interpreter, was in Arusha, Tanzania, to support the work of UAACC and the KUJI Foundation, a community organization founded by former political prisoner and human rights activist, Mr. Geronimo ji Jaga.  UAACC and KUJI have formed a strong partnership which has resulted in several successful projects serving the people of Tanzania, including the Imbaseni Community Water project and the Spirit of the Panther community bus service.

O’Neal, formerly Chairman of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panther Party, founded the UAACC in 1991 in order to provide an educational center for the youth and elders in Imbaseni Village, the rural community located outside of Arusha, that he and his wife, Charlotte have lived in for nearly three decades.  Pete O’Neal founded the Heal the Community exchange program in 1995 which provides cultural immersion activities for ‘at risk’ youth in cities across America.  DeLaSalle Education Center located in Kansas City, (one of Arusha’s Sister Cities), has been selecting youth to participate in this positive life altering program since its inception.


Sean Penn, who arrived in Arusha July 19, was accompanied by his wife, Robin Wright-Penn, also an accomplished actress and movie star and their two children. The Penn family visited the Arusha region for one week, taking in the rich cultural offerings of the local community. However, their primary purpose was to witness the work of KUJI and UAACC, so that they can “serve as ambassadors of goodwill back in the United States, sharing the success stories of these organizations with others in the film and entertainment industry”.

During their visit, the Penn family were able to visit a remote Maasai village; participate in an ngoma (traditional dance) ceremony lead by the African Traditional Dance Group; toured the campus, enjoyed delicious meals and visited with students and volunteers at the UAACC; went to a local orphanage and village primary school; assessed the feasibility and needs of several new projects initiated by KUJI, including a plan to bring solar power to the local village around UAACC and KUJI headquarters, as well as a joint venture with Arusha Node Marie ANM (a non profit internet service provider) to increase the bandwidth and service of Elimu on Line, ANM's community service component which offers free Internet service to qualifying schools and community organizations.
Pete O’Neal also organized a unique adventure to the world renowned Serengeti National Game reserve with George Mavroudis Safaris, one of the top luxury safari companies in the world.  The Penn Family accompanied by O’Neal, ji Jaga and UAACC/KUJI volunteer Gaidi Faraji, were able to get a birds eye view of both Mt. Kilimanjaro, (the tallest point in Africa) and Mt. Meru plus several active volcanoes in the area, as they flew in a chartered plane to the Serengeti. They later drove through the midst of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebras, elephants and other animals on their annual migration to greener wilderness.

 

 While this was Sean Penn's first visit to Africa, Robin Wright Penn has visited Africa before, spending time in Senegal, West Africa. “Our time here in Tanzania has been absolutely magical”, Mr. Penn said before departing, “and we will definitely be back!”

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Sean Penn and his wife, Robin Wright Penn's primary purpose was to witness the work of Kuji and UAACC, so that they can serve as ambassadors of goodwill back in the United States, sharing the success stories of these organizations with others in the film and entertainment industry.

Penn had recently returned from London where he was supporting the efforts of activists and organizers to urge the G8 countries meeting in Gleneagles to forgive the debt of African nations and increase the amount of aid given by the richest nations. He is also a supporter of the One Campaign to make poverty history. Penn is a highly active member of the global community, constantly lending his time and energy to promote justice and accountability. Penn has travelled extensively in support of openess in the media and fairplay in politcs. He was critized in the west for travelling to Iraq before George Bush's premeditated invasion in 2003. He recently travelled to Iran in an effort to expose the west to what was going on in that country that may not be covered in the nightly news of the Murdoch controlled media monopoly in America, which currently seems set on supporting the Bush administrations efforts to extend their "war against terrorism" to Iraq's neighbors.

This trip was not the first for Penn in support of the Kuji Foundation. A long time supporter and member at large of the foundation, Penn travelled with Kuji founder geronimo ji Jaga to Selma, Alabama in 2000 to support a campaign for fairness and equal access in the electoral process in that city, and across the southern United States, which remain highly segregated and politically backwards even forty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965 (of which several key provisions are set to expire in 2007).

During their visit the Penn family visited with students and volunteers at the UAACC, went to a local orphanage, assessed the feasibility and needs of several new projects initiated by KUJI, including a plan to bring solar power to the local village around UAACC and KUJI headquarters, as well as a joint venture with Arusha Node Marie to increase the bandwidth and service of Elimu On Line, ANM's community service component which offers free internet service to qualifying schools and community organizations.

http://www.kujifoundation.org


 

www.sean-penn.de