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Tom Hanks Helps Bring Radios and Education to Africa

Two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, dad of Colin, 30, and the U.S. Ambassador of the Freeplay Foundation, has lent his voice and his autograph to benefit learning programs in Africa.

The Freeplay Foundation produces Lifeline radios, the first radios ever produced specifically for use in humanitarian projects. They are not sold commercially, but are used in Africa for distance-learning programs in English, math, science and life skills. Powered by hand crank and a solar panel, the radios do not require batteries or electricity – crucial in a region that is home for some of the poorest people in the world.

“The Lifeline radio can change the world – one person, one house, one village at a time,” said Tom. “The beauty of the Freeplay Foundation is the radio itself and the immediacy of its mission: To put radios in the hands of people who need them. Lifeline radios can make a positive impact from the moment they are turned on in one of the villages.”

The name Lifeline comes from the radioÂ’s primary audience of orphaned children in Rwanda. Experts estimate that more than 800,000 orphaned children live in Rwanda, many in child-led households run by an older sibling, due to the 1994 genocide and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.

“The first time I held a Lifeline, I felt like I was carrying all of the promise of the modern world in my hand,” remembers Tom. “Music can come out of the sky without batteries being tossed into landfills. Information can be sent and received, and voices of freedom can be heard. All by winding up this little box.”

The actor autographed 10 Freeplay Lifeline Radios for auction, and they will be on sale until Feb. 1. Winning bidders will also receive a personal letter and signed photo from Tom.

The charity auction is hosted by eBay Giving Works, eBayÂ’s dedicated program for charity listings, and is accessible on eBay.com. More information on the Freeplay Foundation can be found at www.freeplayfoundation.org

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