KABUL, Afghanistan — Often considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, Angelina Jolie is much more than a pretty face. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy, Jolie offered a grand donation to build an all-girls school in Qalai Gudar in 2011. During her previous trips to Afghanistan, Jolie was touched by the desire of Afghan girls to pursue an education.
Located near Kabul, Qalai Gudar had been known for its beautiful orchards and arable farmlands. However, the village witnessed heavy fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in the mid 1990s and up until the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Nearly all families fled to neighboring countries and most infrastructures were destroyed.
With the help of UNHCR, refugees began returning to Afghanistan and started the reconstruction process. Surprisingly, the first thing they asked for was a school for their daughters. While away in refugee camps, Afghans became aware of the importance of education not only for boys, but also for girls. In collaboration with UNHCR, Jolie set out to make their wishes come true.
Using the proceeds from her jewelry line Style by Jolie, Jolie has established yet another school in war-torn Afghanistan. Additional donations have been given to go towards textbooks and awards for graduation ceremonies. Construction of the school was completed in 2012 and has been providing young girls a culturally sensitive environment in which to study. The school must run in two shifts to educate the roughly 450 students, where only 9 teachers are available to teach.
Supporting girls’ education and empowerment is one way UNHCR aims to promote the return of refugees in Pakistan and Iran back to Afghanistan. Almost two years old now, the school has already changed the Qalai Gudar region drastically. Parents have vowed to keep their daughters in school and delay marriages.
Jolie’s humanitarian work is well known globally. She supports about 30 charities worldwide, from the Afghanistan Relief Organization to Yele Haiti Foundation. She lends her fame and time to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. Now, Jolie’s school in Afghanistan will help hundreds of girls get the education of which they dreamed. She does not just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
– Leeda Jewayni