Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika: Cynthia Basinet

Displaced societies are of value. Their issues are our issues."

— Cynthia Basinet

Actress, model, and singer Cynthia Basinet understood the power of the internet to connect people when the medium rocketed her song "Santa Baby" around the world. The empowerment and self-determination she experienced prompted her to seek new connections in new ways. In May 2001 she sang for a different audience–refugees living in the western Sahara desert. More than 80 per cent women and children, 200,000 refugees are struggling to survive in the southwest corner of Algeria. Their refusal to return home and their fight for self-determination captured the attention of Cynthia Basinet.

Growing up in San Jose, California, Cynthia sang and played the flute and saxophone as a child. Her life has been a succession of journeys. In 1984, she and her infant son left San Francisco and an abusive husband to spend five years in Europe, and there she learned more about world issues. In Paris she learned to speak fluent French, studied cinematography, and became a successful model. Cynthia returned to Los Angeles with an expanded vision and a determination to become socially active. Her goal in visiting the Saharawis was to help communicate their value to the world. "We are all linked," she said. "The strength and conviction of the Saharawis is something that deserves to be highlighted in the conscience of not only America, but the world. The same issues of power apply to the 85 per cent working class that makes up America." She was moved by the connection she felt to the Saharawis. "I hit this note, and all the women started warbling. You know, that Arabic sound the women make. It was the most healing moment in my life."