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01 August 2011

Making a Difference ~ Angelina Jolie

by Tracie Koziura

AngelinaIt was during the filming of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia that Angelina Jolie first became aware of worldwide humanitarian crises. After contacting UNHCR for information about international trouble spots, Angelina began visiting refugee camps in these areas to learn more about the conditions there.

In February 2001, she went on her first field visit, an 18-day mission to Sierra Leone and Tanzania and later expressed her shock at what she had witnessed there. During the following months, she returned to Cambodia and met with Afghan refugees in Pakistan where she donated $1 million in response to an international UNHCR emergency appeal. She insisted on covering all costs related to her missions and shared the same rudimentary working and living conditions as UNHCR field staff on all of her visits.

On August 27th, 2001 Angelina was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. Since then, she has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced people on 20 different countries. "I hope to raise awareness of the plight of these people. I think they should be commended for what they have survived, not looked down upon."

Angelina is noted for not shying away from visiting areas that are currently at war. In 2004 she visited displaced families in the Darfur region of Sudan during the Darfur conflict; in 2007 she met with Sudanese refugees in neighboring Chad during its civil war; in 2007 and 2009 she visited displaced people as well as US troops and other multi-national forces in Iraq during the Second Gulf War and in 2008 and 2011 she met with internally displaced people in Afghanistan during the ongoing war.

Angelina uses her public profile to promote humanitarian causes through the mass media. Over time, she has become more involved in promoting humanitarian causes on a political level and she has established several charitable organisations including the Maddox Jolie Project in 2003 (renamed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2007) which is dedicated to eradicating extreme rural poverty, protecting natural resources, and conserving wildlife in Cambodia's northwestern province of Battambang, the birthplace of her son Maddox. In 2006 she partnered with Global Health Committee director Dr. Anne Goldfeld to establish the Maddox Chivan Children's Center, a daycare facility for children afflicted and affected by HIV in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and in that same year, she and Brad Pitt announced the founding to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation which made initial donations to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders of $1 million each.

Angelina co-chairs the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, which she co-founded with noted economist Dr. Gene Sperling in 2007 and the partnership funds education programs for children affected by conflict. In 2008, she founded Kids in Need of Defense, which provides free legal-aid to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children with no legal representation.

Angelina Jolie has received wide recognition for her humanitarian work. In 2003, she was the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association and, in 2005, she was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA.

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni awarded her Cambodian citizenship for her conservation work in the country on July 31, 2005 and, in 2007, she received the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee.

Angelina Jolie is another of those incredible celebrities who have used the benefits their celebrity status has afforded them to make a difference in our world - doing good by giving back. Not just content with funding various projects, Angelina makes a point of being actively involved with them by visiting troubled areas and being hands on with the relief efforts being carried out. Angelina is a remarkable actress, a genuine philanthropist and a truly inspirational lady.

Medium: Pastels on velour
Size: 11" x 10"
© 2006, Tracie Koziura


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