Celebrities may not technically have any more social responsibility than the average citizen, but the one thing they do have that most of us do not is the ability to reach a mass audience. When stars speak out on important issues, they command attention — and that's why it's so vital that they say the right thing. Thor star Tom Hiddleston is speaking out about the crisis in South Sudan, and his words are a powerful reminder of a situation that most of the world turns a blind eye to. Hiddleston just penned an essay for the Independent about how children are effected by the political turmoil in this part of the world and his words should resonate with everyone.
Hiddleston witnessed the strife first hand earlier this year when he visited South Sudan with Unicef on a humanitarian mission. The country, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, has had to deal with political conflict since December of 2013. Since, children have fared terribly: many have been recruited unwillingly into the war, while others have suffered sexual assaults and attacks on their schools. Many live in fear, which makes it challenging for them to pursue things as basic as an education. Hiddleston writes of his experience visiting the country:
Walking around the desolate school [in South Sudan], the destruction left in the wake of the militia’s violent interruption of the school day the previous weekend [when the militia kidnapped 89 school children] was still visible. The playground was empty, school desks had been overturned and doors were hanging off their hinges. In one of the school-rooms, I met with 15-year-old John, who had escaped abduction. Sitting on the floor together in the corner, he told me that he feared for his life, that everyone did. He told me: “we have a big problem and worry. The soldiers – they are killing the people”. But despite the immense danger, he still wanted to attend school and prepare for his exams.
It is for this reason that Hiddleston is backing Unicef UK's new campaign, which encourages governments to prioritize children during wartime. It's devastating that these young students in South Sudan who simply want an education must contend with enormous challenges and fear in order to do so. Hiddleston's first-person account of what is really going on in this country is illuminating, and hopefully his status as a public figure will allow people to open their eyes to what is really going on overseas.