Eco-Celeb: Angelina Jolie

September 15, 2009

Angelina Jolie has received three Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and an Academy Award. She’s also considered one of the world’s most beautiful women. Oh, and she shows up on the red carpet accessorized with Brad Pitt. But what really makes Jolie stand out (at least in my humble opinion) is her humanitarian efforts. And she doesn’t do it for the sake of the press either. Jolie is truly committed to making our world a better place, which is why she continues to personally plead for the lives of those less fortunate. Jolie even admitted to donating a third of her increasingly large income to charity, resulting in millions of dollars earmarked towards her favorite causes.

Jolie’s first big humanitarian effort occurred in 2001 during a trip to Tanzania and Sierra Leone when she experienced for herself the shocking living conditions of the refugees. Shortly after she was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Actively helping refugees seek asylum and fighting for their basic rights, the UNHCR is currently helping approximately 34 million people in more than 110 countries. Part of that includes evaluating the environmental damage that occurs in refugee camps.

Along with her partner, she created the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (more commonly known simply as the Jolie-Pitt Foundation) in 2003. Focusing on conservation work in Cambodia’s endangered Cardamom Mountains, the foundation started by helping save the region’s forest, freshwater ecosystems and endangered species. Currently it has expanded with reforestation, park management and rural development projects throughout Cambodia.

From handing out presents to Colombian refugees on Christmas day in Costa Rica to witnessing first hand the destruction in Pakistan after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, Jolie has visited more than 20 countries to help aid refugees. She also regularly visits Washington DC and meets with the country’s top politicians. And she co-chairs the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, which connects over 40 organizations to help children caught in areas of war, natural disasters or other conflicts.

In fact realizing that many refugee children are without families or have families unable to care for them, Jolie adopted Cambodian refugee Maddox in 2002 and Ethiopian refugee Zahara in 2005. Her growing clan expanded once more in 2007 with Vietnamese orphan Pax. And when I see photographs of Jolie out with her kids (including her three biological children she shares with Pitt), I get a true sense of her vision for the world: all nations, all races and all religions perfectly united.