A child star since the age of six, Drew Barrymore never really attended traditional school.
But the actress, now 36, understands the value of education. She founded the Drew Barrymore Education Foundation in 2009, helping bring clean water and subsequently, access to education, to two rural communities in Kenya.
In the September issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Barrymore opens up about her passion for giving Kenyan children the ability to attend school. "I never went to school myself," she admits. "I was doing a job and didn't live a kid's life. I wanted to learn more about why [these kids in Kenya] were so passionate, walking so far and overfilling their classrooms."
So Barrymore got in touch with the United Nations in 2004, and eventually became the Ambassador Against Hunger for the UN World Food Programme. One major contribution so far? A $38,000 borehole installed last year that provides a water source for the village. Before that, it was the women's role to walk to a river five miles away, often with babies on their backs, and risked encounters with wild animals.
Since the village now has access to water, the number of girls attending the local school has increased. Boys can also stay in school, because they no longer have to take livestock to the river to drink.
The ultimate goal? For the villagers to view their children's education — rather than the accumulation of livestock — as the road out of poverty.
While Barrymore tells Conde Nast Traveler that her work with the program is not her "whole life," she finds meaning and fulfillment from her philanthropic efforts. "I know that life can be so absolutely, incredibly difficult," she says. "I want to explore and become more socially aware."
To learn more about Drew Barrymore's work with the UN's World Food Programme, check out drewbarrymore.com.
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