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Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith Visit Ethiopians for Charity: Water

USMagazine, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 12:45pm (PDT)

Thanks to the benevolence of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, more than 400 Ethiopians will soon have access to clean drinking water.

In lieu of presents, the couple gave up their birthdays in 2010 on behalf of charity: water and asked thousands of fans to do the same. The Smiths vowed to take the top fundraisers to Africa, and more than $789,000 was raised through 2,013 campaigns. Smith, 43, and Pinkett Smith, 40, also raised an additional $109,000, with 100 percent of the money going towards clean water project costs in the field.

On July 6, 2012, the spouses of 14 years traveled to Ethiopia with charity: water to see the impact of their efforts. Joined by top fundraisers, The Smile Generation and Authentic Jobs, the actors spent two days in Tigray, the northernmost region in Ethiopia, visiting various communities and schools.

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"Our trip to Ethiopia with charity: water was an incredibly eye-opening and authentic experience," Smith tells Us Weekly in a statement. "It was extraordinary to meet and spend time with the people of Tigray and to see first-hand how clean water changes everything for these communities."

The group also witnessed the 31st dig of charity: water's brand new drilling rig, Yellow Thunder, in Meago village. At the inauguration of one new well, the Smiths were offered gifts of gratitude, including original artwork. The couple -- parents to Trey, 19, Jaden, 14, and Willow, 11 -- danced and sang along with hundreds of villagers from surrounding communities.

The Smiths aren't the only stars who have given up their birthdays on behalf of charity: water: Justin Bieber, 18, Kristen Bell, 31, and Jessica Biel, 30, have each raised money for the organization.

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More than 50 Ethiopian million people live without access to clean and safe drinking water. In Tigray alone, charity: water has funded more than 1,000 water projects with the help of their partner, A Glimmer of Hope, and their implementing partner, Relief Society of Tigray.

This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith Visit Ethiopians for Charity: Water

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