Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Angelina Jolie
In the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith reluctantly reveals to her husband Mr. Smith that she lied about being in the Peace Corp. Visibly annoyed, Mr. Smith flares up and shouts, “I really liked that about you!” Off screen, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seem to be the happiest couple in Hollywood although Angelina is not working for Peace Corp. In fact, she is doing so much more in reality. Aside from adopting a daughter from Ethiopia and giving birth to another in Namibia, both Brad and Angelina have spent some serious time and money on causes in Africa.
1. What inspired Angelina Jolie
When Angelina Jolie was in Cambodia to film “Tom Raider” she wasn’t just off raiding tombs and spending time with her little boy Maddox. Her interest in humanitarian affairs piqued during her stay in Cambodia. In an attempt to gather information on international trouble spot, Angelina contacted the United Nations High Commissioner. They set up a meeting and she decided to visit refugee camps around the world—an 18-day mission to Sierra Leone and Tanzania. Faced with the gruesome scene she witnessed, she said, “I was shocked by what I saw” In the end, she covered all costs related to her missions and shared the same rudimentary working and living conditions as UNHCR field staff on all of her visit.
2. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
On 2001, Jolie was appointed as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at UNHCR headquarter in Geneva. Reflecting on her time spent with humanitarian field workers on her mission, she spoke, “We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering. Honestly, I want to help. I don’t believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation, someone would help us.”
Ever since, Jolie has interrupted her busy schedule to be on field missions around the world. She represented UNHCR and the High Commissioner at the diplomatic level and engaged with others on global displacement issues. Not only did she facilitate solutions for people in need of help, she actively participated in the mission to visit refugees in more than 30 countries. She even volunteered to visit areas that are at war. Here is a list of some places she visited.
- 2004 – Darfur region of Sudan during the Darfur conflict
- 2007 – Chad during its civil war
- 2007, 2009 – Iraq during the Second Gulf War
- 2008, 2011 – Afghanistan during the ongoing war
- 2011 – Lybia during the Libyan revolution
3. What is she up to now?
After more than a decade of working as a Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie was promoted to the rank of Special Envoy of high Commissioner Antonio Guterres on April 17, 2012. As her new position, she represents the organization at the diplomatic level and will facilitate long-term solutions for large-scale crisis. “This is an exceptional position reflecting an exceptional role she has played for us,” said a UNHCR spokesman.
Jolie also uses her public profile to promote humanitarian causes through the mass media. Her book, Notes from My Travels, which was published with her film Beyond Borders is only a fraction of her works. Overtime, Jolie became more and more involved in her promotion of humanitarian causes, especially on a political level. She was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos and also met with members of Congress to spread her thoughts.
In addition, she established several charitable organizations. In 2003, she founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which dedicates to community development and environmental conservation in Cambodia’s northwestern province. After three years, she partnered with the global Health committee to establish the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center–a daycare facility for children affected by HIV. That same year, she and Pitt founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to aid humanitarian causes worldwide. In 2008, she collaborated with Microsoft Coporation to establish Kids in Need of Defense, a pro bono movement of law firms, corporate law departments, NGOs and volunteers committed to providing legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S. Finally, in 2010, she established the Jolie Legal Fellows Programme, which recruits lawyers to support governmental child protection efforts in Haiti.
It’s hard for me to doubt Jolie’s genuineness when it comes to volunteering and promoting humanitarian causes. What do you think? Are you inspired? Or are you still doubtful?
Please share your thoughts about her work with us.