Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Angelina Jolie - Notes From My Travels

Angelina Jolie is the Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). This book is her journal & notes during missions she took to Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan & Ecuador. I started reading this book yesterday & am a little over half way through... I tell you.. my admiration for this woman grows more each day... the things she describes take your breath away. break your heart and fill you with indescribeable anger all at once.

It amazes me how little we know about what goes on in other parts of the world. During the Rwanda Genocide.. the Khmer Rouge & Pot Pol killed & tortured people in ways that you can't even imagine. In the prisons where people were held & tortured there are pictures of the things that happened... Mothers holding their babies in their arms.. dead with drills in their head. They would take drills and drill into people skulls until it killed them. They would take babies & hang them upside down by their feet & smash their heads against trees until they were dead. They forced parents to cut off the limbs of their children or spouse while they were alive, doctors to cut off hands of babies or they and their whole families would be killed. In this book, this journal of her travels.. Angelina Jolie sees first hand the death & destruction so many refugees suffered.

The US State Department estimates that there are STILL 60 to 70 MILLION landmines in the ground worldwide. In Cambodia.. children play in yards that have not yet been demined... amputees, victims of landmines often work together to try and farm land to provide for their familes. She writes of a man who has no arms below the elbow and is blind, from stepping on a mine. His 5 year old son is his eyes & has to help in the field... the field that hasn't been demined.

I encourage EVERYONE to read this book, research, read, study, do what you can to learn about the horrific conditions your fellow human beings are living in daily... All because Organizations like the UNHCR don't receive enough funding to help these people build new lives. Their homes are mud huts, or boards leaned against each other, they sleep on the dirt ground, they consider themselves blessed to have a few ounces of food a day... The courage, strength and pure heart of these people come through in Angie's notes and though I may never have the opportunity to let her know, I thank her for sharing her travels with us & inspiring me to even further see what I can do to make a difference.

For more info on Angelina Jolie and her work with the UNHCR visit UNHCR.org