Posts Tagged ‘Angelina Jolie’

Today is World Refugee Day

Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. It is a day to acknowledge, and pledge to help, the millions of women, men, and children around the world who have been displaced from their homes by violence and conflict. There are over 45 million refugees adrift from familiar home territory right now–more than the entire population of Canada–and it is a crisis we cannot ignore. Our global family hurts. There are myriad ways to involve yourself today, please find a way to lend your support, your voice, your prayers, your energy, and your intention that wars can conclude, occupations can resolve, violence can fade away, and families can go home.

Here are just a few initiatives:

United Nations World Refugee Malaria Program (send a necessary bed net to a family on the run with no protection from this deadly, and preventable, disease).

Dadaab Stories chronicles life in refugee camps, working with FilmAid‘s tireless work in refugee communities.

i-Act actions for Darfur refugees on World Refugee Day and beyond.

As Angelina Jolie, who is in Syria today as an envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) helps point out, the war in Syria forced more people to flee last year than any other conflict in the world. In the last six months the number has more than doubled to 1.6 million, of whom 540,000 are in Jordan. “The worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century is unfolding in the Middle East today,” said Ms. Jolie.

Photo: UNHCR/O.Laban-Mattel

Photo: UNHCR/O.Laban-Mattel

Scared and exhausted, fleeing for their lives with only what they can carry…this is going on in too many places…

World Refugee Day, Angelina Jolie, and Taking Action

Angelina Jolie was just displaced (by Kristen Stewart) from the number one spot on the list of the highest grossing female entertainers…but her position there has afforded her to address, in a huge way, displacement that actually means something. Jolie has long had a vocal presence in the fight for support and recognition of refugees of war, and yesterday, on World Refugee Day as recognized by the United Nations and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), the activist/actress donated $100,000 to help Syrian refugees.

Around the world, every minute, another eight people are displaced from their homes, families, villages, cities, nations…no one chooses to be displaced. From a press release, Jolie is quoted:

“We risk forgetting the individual when we speak in numbers, but the numbers tell an important story. In the past year 4.3 million people have become displaced. There are still 2.7 million refugees from Afghanistan. 12 million people are stateless. And for the fifth consecutive year the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide exceeded 42 million.

“Sadly, a person who becomes a refugee is likely to remain one for many years – often stuck in a camp or living precariously in the city of a developing nation. 70 per cent of refugees under UNHCR’s protection have been in this situation for more than five years. Their safety and well-being depend on the continued generosity of those countries who have kept their borders open to refugees, and on the vital efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance wherever and whenever it is necessary.

“Unfortunately, the world is producing displaced people faster than it is producing solutions to displacement. And the solutions are not exclusively humanitarian – they are also political. The international community should rededicate itself to preventing conflict, addressing it when it erupts, and solving it more quickly, for that is the only way to create durable solutions for the refugees whose strength inspires us on this World Refugee Day.”

How, and where, do you put your money where your mouth is, supporting the things that inspire or defeating the things that horrify you? Give me some ideas of movements that matter to you in the comments section below–I’m sure we all want to know more.

First Angelina Jolie Legal Fellow

Jolie (L) and Nozile (R), Chris Polk/Getty Images, PR Newswire

Nathalie Nozile was, when she was younger and living in Haiti, and long before she got her law degree from University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, a resident of SOS Children’s Villages, a global organization dedicated to providing family-based services for children without parental care. In two SOS Village sin Haiti, there are about 700 children being given a nurturing home life, and another 14,000 Haitians receiving emergency food each day.

Coming from being an orphan in Haiti, and with a commitment to return and make the nation a better place for all, post-earthquake, Nathalie was just named the first Jolie Legal Fellow. This is an honored position, sponsored by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and named for Angelina Jolie, to support the Haitian government’s work toward strengthening the judicial system and protecting the nation’s most vulnerable children. She is devoted to protecting the kids like those with whom she grew up, and the Foundation recognized her incredible potential for changing the world.

“I am thrilled that Nathalie Nozile will be our first legal fellow in Haiti – where the need to enhance child protection is so great,” said Angelina Jolie. “Nathalie has a heartfelt commitment to improve conditions in her homeland, and brings to her work the unique perspective of growing up in an SOS Village. There, she learned firsthand the importance to a childhood of a stable and nurturing environment. Now, as a promising attorney, she will draw on her personal experience as she returns to help strengthen the Haitian judicial system. Nathalie will be working to help ensure equal access to justice and the protection of children’s rights in Haiti.”

Nozile made it a priority to volunteer in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake–just one of many ways she has shown her commitment to Haiti. “It is a great privilege and honor to become the first Jolie Legal Fellow,” she said. “I made a decision to obtain a law degree long ago so that I could return to Haiti to serve my country, now in such a critical state. I hope my commitment will inspire more young professionals to return to Haiti, because Haiti needs us all.”

Ms. Jolie concluded: “Nathalie is a force … just wait and see. She will be doing many great things. She represents the best of Haiti. She is an extraordinary example. I am proud to know her and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with her.”

Speaking of extraordinary commitments to community and making your home region a better place, what are your plans for tomorrow, Martin Luther King Day, and America’s Day of Service? HERE is a place to find volunteer opportunities convenient to you.

Self Promotion

Below is a brief piece from a summer issue of Marie Claire Magazine in their “World Reports” section, about volunteer travel, with a brief quote (all that’s left from a longer interview–but I know too well, from the other side of the equation, how that goes and interviews get cut down to bites) from me and mention of my book, at the end. It is the first time (to my knowledge) that the book has been mentioned in editorial content in print…so I’m kinda jazzed.

A direct link is (here).


How To Be a “Voluntourist”

By Sarah Robbins


angelina jolie in tanzaniaAngelina Jolie helps build a hut for Congolese refugees in Tanzania.

Photo Credit: N. Behring-Chrisholm/Getty Images

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You tumble out of your bunk at 5 a.m., take an ice-cold shower, and schlep banana-tree trunks across the rainforest to build a bridge. That’s called summer vacation for volunteers with the Malaysia-based Great Orangutan Project, which works to protect the dwindling population of red-haired apes. And it’s one of hundreds of do-goodery options for people itching to heed President Obama’s call to service, asking not what your time off can do for you (tan lines, hookups, tiki bars), but what you can do with your time off.

A slew of “voluntourism” books are hitting shelves this summer, starting with Volunteer Vacations Across America and National Geographic’s The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life. The guides describe how to do everything from building a mobile karaoke studio in Cambodia to restoring a monastery in Tibet.

A little too selfless for you? Consider this: “In today’s economy, it can be crass to talk about how you spent two weeks at a resort,” says Andrew Mersmann, author of Frommer’s 500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference, in stores this fall. “But if you spent your days saving endangered black rhinos, that’s cocktail conversation.”

Can You Hear Me Now?

boyphoneOne of the things about working so closely with a local community on a service vacation…exascerbated when living with a local host family…is saying goodbye. That family becomes your family and it is devastating to think you might never again be in touch.

The British volunteer vacation company, Projects Abroad (, (an organization that has hosted both Angelina Jolie and Madonna) is working with Vodaphone to help create a long-term connection between volunteers and recipients of aid projects.

The company has found that more than 70% of their volunteers are women, and has marketed the idea as an “adoption” program for young female volunteers, where a child with whom you’ve worked is given a pay-as-you-go cell phone that is funded by Projects Abroad (with at least £5 per month topped off remotely by the volunteer) so you can remain in contact with the family indefinitely.

“[Volunteers] are heart broken when they have to return,” says Faye Stickings, Head of Project Abroad’s Social Development. “They live with and completely immerse themselves within the lives of the families. Breaking that tie is always harrowing. The Link-for-Life program changes all that.”

Saying goodbye after creating such a bond will never be easy, but this is a smart idea (that I hope will catch on with other organizations) that can help ease the ache.