Cher recently warmed hearts around the world for her efforts that led to the resettlement of Kaavan, a 36-year-old elephant who landed in Cambodia on Monday, November 30.
Not only was the singer-songwriter instrumental in Kaavan's rescue, by raising awareness through a spirited social media campaign, she also travelled to Pakistan to see him off and was on hand at Siem Reap International Airport when his plane landed.
While the level of care and dedication Cher has shown to the cause is commendable, it's not altogether surprising. The 74-year-old is well known for her social work and activism, and is unafraid to voice her opinions - be it on animal captivity or the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a look at some of the philanthropic initiatives she’s spearheaded.
Cher is a supporter of children with facial anomalies
In 1985, Cher starred in Mask where she played the mother of Rocky Dennis, a child with a rare craniofacial condition. Her involvement in the movie, gave her a better understanding of the condition and led her to become the national chairperson and honorary spokesperson for the Children's Craniofacial Association, a post she has held since 1990. Other than donating concert tickets and inviting children with craniofacial conditions backstage during her concerts, she also plans annual retreats where families of children with such conditions can get together to share information and feel supported. The retreat has taken place in multiple states across the US, although the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Cher has travelled to Armenia on a humanitarian mission
The Grammy-winner, who is Armenian on her father’s side, made an impromptu trip to the then war-torn country in 1993. During her visit, she brought along and distributed medical supplies, books and toys, visited an orphanage, spent time with the locals and rounded off the trip with a meeting with then president Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
Cher is involved in the fight against Aids
The singer is affiliated with the group Keep a Child Alive, which seeks to combat Aids by providing medicine to children and families with HIV/Aids. Not only does she make donations and raise awareness and funds for the cause, but she also hosted the American Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) benefit in 1996. Her continuous efforts were recognised by amfAR with an Award of Inspiration in 2015.
Cher has been part of Habitat for Humanity
In 2004, members of Cher’s tour group raised money to assist in the construction of a home that would be donated in the singer's name to Habitat for Humanity, an organisation dedicated to eliminating housing poverty in America. The gesture was meant to be a meaningful gift for her birthday. Cher went on to visit the construction site, met with the family who would be the homeowners and later became honorary national chair for Raise the Roof, an initiative by the Habitat for Humanity to enlist artists in the construction of houses for needy families.
Cher donated 180,000 bottles of drinking water during the Flint water crisis
People around the world where outraged when news of the Flint water crisis – where the Michigan city’s drinking water source became contaminated due to lead pipes – broke. In the aftermath, Cher not only spoke up for the cause, but also donated 180,000 bottles in 2016. She continued to push for a thorough investigation on social media, and called on other celebrities to lend support and financial aid.
Cher started a charity to help the 'neglected' during the coronavirus pandemic
The year 2020 has been a busy one for the star. Apart from joining the rescue effort for Kaavan, Cher also joined other celebrities to raise awareness and donate funds towards the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report by Billboard, the singer launched the charity CherCares Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative earlier this year with Dr Irwin Redlener, head of Columbia University's Pandemic Resource and Response Centre. The goal was to to distribute $1 million to "chronically neglected and forgotten people" during the pandemic through the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
"It's not a lot of money — $1 million goes in the blink of an eyelash — so now I'm trying to get my friends to make it a lot more, so we can do something that will really meet people's needs. A friend once told me: 'When people walk in your path, then you know what you have to do'," she told Billboard.