Stone nets $1m for Africa in five-minute fundraiser

ACTRESS Sharon Stone raised $1 million in five minutes yesterday for Tanzanian mosquito nets, turning a debate about African poverty at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland into an impromptu fund-raising event.

An hour into the discussion featuring British Chancellor Gordon Brown, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa, Stone suddenly rose from her seat in the audience.

“I’d like to offer $10,000 dollars to help you buy some bed nets today,” Stone told Mkapa.

Her offer came as the audience was told 150,000 African children were dying every month because they did not have bed nets.

Stone implored others in the hall - packed with several hundred well-heeled executives and political leaders - to reach into their pockets.

“Just stand up. Just stand up. People are dying (of malaria) in his country today,” she said. “And that is not OK with me today.”

Within seconds, an unidentified man had promised $50,000.

After five minutes, following pledges from about 30 people, Stone had raised $1m, said US Senator Bill Frist, who chaired the panel discussion on how rich nations can best fund the war on poverty.

“How many bed nets will a million dollars buy?” he asked the crowd, which erupted into applause. The money will go to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Also in the audience was actress Angelina Jolie, a United Nations goodwill ambassador for refugee issues, who said she thought what Stone had done was “wonderful”.

“We can all contribute in our own way,” she said.

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