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Although the public’s feelings about Angelina Jolie seem to be polarizing, even the haters must admit that she does a great deal of humanitarian work, bringing issues forward to the public that might otherwise not garner much attention in the U.S.
Jolie brought attention to World Refugee Day (June 20) this year by making an impressive donation of $100,000, intended for work in assisting Syrian refugees.
While some may have preferred to donate anonymously in order to avoid the inevitable comments of “You’re a millionaire – if it’s so important to you, why not donate more?” Jolie decided to take credit for and pride in for what she has given, and use her fame to further raise awareness about a world problem that means so much to her.
“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,” Jolie said in a written statement following her donation. “The international community should rededicate itself to preventing conflict, addressing it when it erupts, and solving it more quickly,” she added, “for that is the only way to create durable solutions for the refugees whose strength inspires us on this World Refugee Day.”
Jolie began her humanitarian work after filming her 2001 film Laura Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia. What she saw awoke her inner humanitarian, and she soon began traveling – on her own dime – to refugee camps around the world, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Pakistan. Jolie officially became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in August of 2001.
Jolie increased her world travels, focusing on areas that had fallen out of the mainstream media’s attention, but were still suffering. She also traveled to places in the midst of war, demonstrating that this was a subject that truly meant something to her, not a ploy for personally media attention.
Last year, Jolie was given a higher rank of Special Envoy of High Commissioner of António Guterres, which increased her responsibilities within the organization. She continues using her fame to promote humanitarian causes in the media, including public service announcements.
Jolie has received numerous awards and recognitions for her humanitarian work. She received the first Humanitarian Award from the Church World Service’s Immigration and Refugee Program, the first Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association, the Global Humanitarian Award by UNA-USA, the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee, and was recognized for being the longest-serving staff member as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
Like her or not as an actress, Jolie is using her fame for something worthwhile, and is thinking of those beyond herself and her family. Spending one’s own money on a cause is not something we see a lot of, so I, for one, applaud her.