IMPACT
08/17/2010 03:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Rooney Mara, 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Actress, Helps Kenyan Orphans

The relatively-unknown actress Rooney Mara has recently been announced as the official choice for the role of Lisbeth Salander, the titular character of the popular book "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Now, Mara and her work are getting more than a second look -- including her other job, where she is the founding member of an aid organization called Faces of Kibera.

Mara first visited Kenya in the summer of 2007 with a Nairobian volunteer program and was placed with a children's home in Kibera. Situated on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kibera is approximately the size of New York's Central Park and is home to over a million people.

Because the local government considers the area to be an unauthorized community, it is excluded from most basic necessities as well as all government-regulated resources, including health care and schools. The lack of infrastructure makes relief efforts in Kibera difficult, leaving both the adult population and the 50,000 children orphaned by AIDS to fend for themselves.

'Faces of Kibera' currently focuses particularly on orphaned young girls, raising funding to build a community-based care facility that will move them into a suburb and help them learn skills to step out of extreme poverty in the long run. The nonprofit is also in the early stages of an art initiative designed to encourage emotional health through creative expression.