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Celebrities and world leaders come together to end extreme poverty

On Sept. 27, the music industry’s biggest stars and the world’s humanitarian leaders came together for the 3rd Annual Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

Most people don’t hear the word “vaccination” and think “Fun.”

Nor do many people pair JAY Z with sanitation efforts in Northern India. Or Tiësto with girls’ education in Rwanda.

But on Sept. 27, the music industry’s biggest stars and the world’s humanitarian leaders came together for the third annual Global Citizen Festival to spotlight efforts that could change millions of lives across the globe. Celebrity activists like Adrian Grenier, Hugh Jackman and Jessica Alba, and world leaders like United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the musical acts: Beyonce, JAY Z, Fun., Tiësto, No Doubt, StingCarrie Underwood and The Roots. The concert was hosted on msnbc and by Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner, and Ronan Farrow.

Global Poverty Project (GPP), the organization that hosts the annual festival, aims to end extreme poverty by 2030 by increasing the number of people taking action against poverty. In support of that goal, free concert tickets were awarded to people who completed GPP’s “action journey” -- a sequence of actions meant to secure commitments from charities, corporations and countries. This year, those actions focused on improving vaccinations, education and sanitation. teamed up with GPP and spent the past three months traveling to Nigeria, Rwanda and India to catalog the strife and survival of people living in extreme poverty.

In Kano State in northern Nigeria, we met Aisha Isyaku, a volunteer community mobilizer and Islam teacher who travels from house to house with UNICEF’s polio vaccination team. She became a champion of polio eradication after her best friend contracted the disease. Nigeria is one of three polio-endemic countries left in the world.

In Rwanda’s Rugamara village, we met Epiphanie Karuranga, an uneducated mother of five who funds her children’s education by weaving baskets. Karuranga says she eats less than her children so that she can afford to buy them school supplies. Only 15.6% of Rwandan girls attend secondary school, but initiatives like Connect to Learn are working to change that.

And in northern India’s Khanpur village in Haryana, we met Surjit Kaur, the leader of a group of local women who banded together to educate their community on the benefits of sanitation using some unusual tactics. Sixty percent of open defecation that occurs in the world happens in India, spreading disease and harming children’s development.

To watch the performances, visit