Drew Barrymore graces the cover of Condé Nast Traveler's September Visionaries issue in a photograph captured during her recent trip to Kenya. The actress invited the magazine to join her on the journey and opens up about her connection to the country in the pages of the glossy. Drew visited Africa this Summer to follow up on the progress of the Drew Barrymore Education Project, which she cofounded in 2009 with the World Food Program. The residents of Kiltamany village greeted the actress by dressing her in traditional garb, including a cowhide dress and an ornate beaded collar. Drew's efforts have already made a marked difference in their lives — especially for women and girls. The Education Project helped fund the creation of a solar-powered well in town, which means the villagers no longer have to make a dangerous four-hour trek for water. The new water source has even given girls more free time to regularly attend school. Drew reflects on what she has in common with the Kenyans she spent time with and why philanthropy is so important to her in the article. Here are some highlights:
- On small efforts making big differences: "It's amazing to me that the kids mention professions which involve helping others, that they are naturally philanthropic. People can feel unconfident about sending money into the void of a charity. But when you find something like this that speaks to your heart, it gives you the courage to look beyond your own problems and take the first small steps to try as an individual to make an impact."
- On how much Kenyan kids value school: "I was really moved. I never went to school myself. I was doing a job and didn't have a kids life. I wanted to learn more about why these kids were so passionate, walking so far and overfilling their classrooms."
- On her tip for tourists: "Travelers should look at the harsh realities of a place but balance that with seeking its beauty. It's important to acknowledge the reality of how the world functions but also to keep a sense of hope."
- On feeling awkward during her early visits to Kenya: "I didn't want to be on a soapbox, this Westerner living in a bubble, so on the first trip I was a little nervous. I asked questions and listened a lot . . ."