Friday, June 29, 2012

Gene Simmons Recalls Tearful Trip To Africa

Chronicled in his A&E reality series, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Kiss front man Gene Simmons recently traveled to Zambia, Africa to meet some of the more than 140 children he sponsors through ChildFund, and the trip was admittedly, a life-changer.

The Simmons family embarked on the first-time journey nearly 20 years after Gene first begun sponsoring the kids after wife Shannon Tweed devised the impromptu expedition as an extension of their honeymoon. While there, cameras rolled on his emotional reaction to the sub-human conditions he encountered.

"It's a good slap in the face," Simmons recalls of the abject poverty his sponsored children are forced to live in, telling that the trip had the usually stoic rocker fighting tears. "Every time we went someplace, I'd find myself turning away from our crew… and start crying 'cause I felt ashamed; I felt that I wasn't doing more."

The affecting visit also brought up vivid memories of his childhood in Israel, where he and his mother lived in similar poverty until he journeyed to America at age eight.

While there, Gene and Shannon passed out school supplies, soccer balls, backpacks and clothing. Shannon even gave one young woman the shoes off her feet.

And although the visit amped up his desire to improve the lives of impoverished children in Africa, adoption from the region is not on his agenda.

"A child is not a toy," explains Gene. "We have six dogs, two cats…You need to put in the time and the effort and be there... It's just not the right time for us to physically adopt, but that doesn't mean we can't save children."
Watch Gene's fill interview in the player above.

To learn more about ChildFund International, or to find out how you can also contribute, visit their website here.
Gene Simmons Family Jewels airs Mondays on A&E.