SEATTLE — Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are two noteworthy humanitarians. The recently announced end to their decade-long partnership, in addition to the expected heartache and sorrow, has also carried with it a deluge of criticisms and speculations. The negative publicity surrounding the Jolie-Pitt divorce has obfuscated the efforts of these extraordinary philanthropists. They have both, individually and as a couple, made incredible contributions towards supporting vulnerable populations.
Their mutual passion for effecting positive change has been a dominant aspect of their public relationship. In 2006, they donated $8 million to charity together. They also founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, headquartered in Cambodia, in 2006 to support environmental protection initiatives and humanitarian causes. The foundation is particularly focused on improving the lives of children in regions undergoing protracted crises, including wars and natural catastrophes. The foundation donated $1 million to Doctors without Borders in 2011 to support the critical medical efforts in Haiti following the earthquake.
In addition to funding health centers in Ethiopia and Cambodia, the Jolie-Pitt foundation also donated $2 million to the Global Health Committee, focused on curing tuberculosis and providing easy access to AIDS treatment. The foundation also contributed $333,000 towards protecting the rights of children and helping meet their needs in situations of crisis by supporting SOS Children’s Villages.
They have also been strong supporters of relief efforts in the war-torn regions of Chad and Darfur under severe crisis. In 2007, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation provided $300,000 for the International Rescue Committee’s relief program to aid Darfur refugees. Some of their other contributions include donations to Namibia Red Action Program and The Yele Haiti Foundation. The Yele Haiti Foundation, founded by musician Wyclef Jean, is influential in promoting health development, education, environmental protection and community development in Haiti.
The greatest testament of the now-separated couple’s innate altruistic tendencies is their children. Three of them, Maddox, Zahara and Pax, were adopted from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam respectively. All proceeds from the sale of all baby pictures amounting to at least $18 million were donated to charity through the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. The Education Partnership for Children of Conflict received part of this donation to support children affected by the Iraq War.
These two incredible humanitarians are not just improving the world with their own efforts, but are also setting examples in kindness and acceptance for their kids who are already budding philanthropists. The Jolie-Pitt sisters, Shiloh and Zahara, now aged 11 and 12, got passionately involved with helping an impoverished family in Mundal Bai in Cambodia during their time in Southeast Asia in 2015. Their ability to empathize sets them apart from many children their age.
At a young age, they have been exposed to different perspectives and witnessed lives in contrasting conditions. The Jolie-Pitt kids showed tremendous interest in First They Killed My Father, a film directed and produced by Jolie based on the atrocities inflicted by the Khmer Rouge regime killing about two million Cambodians. Jolie and Pitt’s oldest sons, Maddox and Pax, aged 16 and 14, were intricately involved in this production, evidence of their maturity and fortitude especially considering Maddox’s potential personal connection to the horrors of this war.
Jolie and Pitt, while imparting ideals of compassion to their kids, are using their talents and fame to expose the depth of inequities in the world and attempting to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Instead of being targeted for their personal struggles surrounding the divorce, they should be applauded for giving their time, energy, resources and influence to effect positive change. Over the last decade, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation has aided men, women and children overcome obstacles and hopefully, it will sustain its commitment towards assuaging poverty and promoting equity.
– Preeti Yadav