Written by Laurel on September 3rd, 2011
Photo of Angelina Jolie from AlertNet News
The photo of the rail-thin woman crouching on one knee occupied the center of my computer screen. Wide eyes. Serious expression. Long hair as golden brown as a loaf of my homemade bread. Angelina Jolie resided in the journalistic limelight again, this time for her first visit to the Halo Trust’s headquarters in Scotland.
The Halo Trust specializes in the removal of hazardous debris of war and has destroyed over 1.3 million land mines and twelve million large caliber ordnance. Thus, my initial response to the news about Angelina included a mental bravo to her and her partner, Brad Pitt. Hadn’t the Jolie-Pitt Foundation provided substantial financial support to Halo, funding humanitarian mine clearance teams in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Kosovo and Afghanistan? Didn’t Angelina keep the global problem of unexploded land mines in the news?
Then I wondered. Would Angelina’s visit to The Halo Trust bring long-term attention to that organization or mostly publicize herself? Did fans just follow the news of her activities–or educate themselves about her cause? Did the spotlight on Angelina–resulting in hundreds of articles and thousands of comments–dilute news of other deserving organizations engaged in land mine clearance and causality reduction?
I performed some generic Google searches on humanitarian demining and had no trouble finding recent news about Mines Advisory Group, a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization that saves lives and builds futures through the destruction of weapons in conflict-affected countries.
For example, on August 18, 2011, AlertNethttp://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/landmine-and-uxo-risk-education-for-women-in-eastern-sudan provided a touching story about twenty-eight-year-old Fawzia Mahmoud Saeed, a MAG Community Liaison Officer working in eastern Sudan. Fawzia’s work included giving safety instructions to those forced to live in communities threatened by the deadly remnants of conflict.
I found entries about APOPO, too, a social enterprise registered in Belgium and headquartered in Tanzania. APOPO breeds and trains African giant pouched rats, also known as HeroRATs, to detect land mines and tuberculosis. Check out their August 2011 newsletter athttps://app.e2ma.net/app/view:CampaignPublic/id:1406080.7183099914/rid:bf434b101a403a3204cd8dec1c60a9e9.
Next I spotted articles and a YouTube video about Roots of Peace, a humanitarian organization based in San Rafael, California. They work to eradicate land mines and rehabilitate cleared land, transforming the scars of war into roots of peace. In other words, “Mines to Vines.” To view the video about work in Vietnam, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcdljiL_tjY&feature=related.
Angelina Jolie’s visit to The Halo Trust may have populated cyberspace with comment clones, but had not totally obscured other recent humanitarian demining news.
Then I read that the Roots of Peace founder had established the charity following the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997, in honor of Diana’s memory and commitment to global demining. A testimony that celebrities can inspire others to make a difference. Of course, Princess Di had been more than just any celebrity. She was amazing.
Still, Angelina Jolie received the 2005 Global Humanitarian Action Award from the United Nations Association of the USA, for her role as an ongoing activist for refugee rights. Perhaps some of Angelina’s fans already engaged in humanitarian work because of her example, or planned to do so in the future.
What’s your opinion on the subject?
Laurel Anne Hill (http://www.laurelannehill.com)
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.