Angelina Jolie slipped away on Grammy Weekend – because why would she attend the Grammys?! – with all of her children, apparently. Jolie took her kids to France, and then she took Zahara and Shiloh to a refugee camp in Jordan. Jordan has taken in thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of refugees from Syria and Iraq over the past 15 years or so. The Zataari refugee camp is populated with Syrian refugees. Shiloh has spent time in refugee camps with her mom before, but this was Zahara’s first visit. Jolie has said in the past that she talks to her kids about her work with the UNHCR, and that they are curious about all of it, and she tries to find opportunities to expose them to life beyond their cloistered Hollywood environment. So while some parents would balk at bringing a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old to a refugee camp, I have faith that Zahara and Shiloh were there because they wanted to be there, and that Angelina prepped them about what to expect and how to behave.
Angelina Jolie is passing on her passion for humanitarian work to the next generation of her family. The actress was joined by daughters Zahara, 13, and Shiloh, 11, during a UNHCR trip to the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan on Sunday. There, they met with Syrians who fled the violence of the ongoing civil war in the country, including girls around Jolie’s daughters’ ages who were part of the TIGER (These Inspiring Girls Enjoy Reading) project, which focuses on education and empowerment even in displacement. The trip was Shiloh’s third visit to a refugee camp and the first for Zahara.
One girl told Jolie and her daughters, “We believe if the adults can make peace now, we young women will build on that peace and help.”
The project, in partnership with International Relief and Development, is designed to fight the epidemic of refugees dropping out of school, with only 20 percent completing a secondary school education. TIGER works with Syrian female coaches to help the girls build confidence. Girls at the Zataari refugee camp wrote their dreams on small pieces of paper, which they put in balloons and released. One said, “I want to be one of the balloons outside of the box.”
Jolie, 42, spoke to the refugees about how they inspired her and gave her hope.
“After seven years of war, most Syrian refugees have exhausted any savings they had. The vast majority of them already live below the poverty line, on less than three dollars a day. Imagine what that would mean for your family,” she said in a speech. “Here, it means families going without sufficient food; children unable to get medical treatment; young girls vulnerable to early marriage; and many Syrians facing their seventh winter without proper shelter.” The actress added, “Humanitarian aid is not a long-term solution. And to be clear, no one wants to get off aid relief more than Syrian families.”
“For such an educated, capable people, it is soul-destroying to be made this dependent. So I would urge the Security Council members to come to the region, to visit the camps and the urban refugees, and find a way to finally bring the full weight of the UN and international community to bear to solve this conflict.”
Jolie’s daughters asked to join her on the trip. Their siblings, 9-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox, stayed in France with their big brothers, Maddox, 16, and Pax, 14. They will spend time in Europe together when Jolie, Zahara and Shiloh return from Jordan.
The TIGER program sounds interesting – one of the things Jolie has been concerned about for years – and to be clear, she’s not the only one – is what happens to the children who are now growing up in refugee camps around the world. How are they educated? How are they given any sense of stability?
Also: where are they staying in France? Brad is selling the chateau, right? Are they staying at Miraval?
Photos courtesy of Getty.