Angelina first, official field mission with the UNHCR was in February 2001. A 18 day mission to Sierra Leone and Tanzania, from February 22 through March 9, 2001. Angelina has since made more than 40 field missions.
She wrote in her journal (Her journals can also be read HERE):
I don’t know what I will accomplish on this trip. All I do know is that while I was learning more and more every day about the world and about other countries as well as my own, I realized how much I didn’t know. I don’t understand why some things are talked about and others are not.
I don’t know why I think I can make any kind of difference. All I know is that I want to.
I have done a lot of research and talked with many people in Washington D.C. at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). I have read as much as I could. I discovered statistics that shocked me and stories that broke my heart. I also read many things that made me sick. I have had nightmares - not many - but they scared me.
I wasn’t sure I should go. I’m still not sure, but - and I know this may sound false to some - I thought of the people who have no choice.
I have a beautiful family, a home, and my husband at my side.
It seems crazy to some of my friends that I want to leave the warmth and safety of my home. They asked, “Why can’t you just help from here? Why do you have to see it?” And I’m not sure if I’m being crazy or stupid.
My Dad attempted to cancel my trip. He called USA for UNHCR, but since I am an adult, he couldn’t stop me. I was angry with him, but I told him, I know he loves me and that I did feel as my father he should protect me from harm. We embraced and smiled at one another.
My Mom looked at me like I was her little girl. She smiled at me through her teary eyes. She is worried. As she hugged me goodbye, she gave me a specific message from my brother Jamie. “Tell Angie I love her, and to remember that if she is ever scared, sad, or angry - look up at the night sky, find the second star on the right and follow it straight on till morning.” That’s from Peter Pan, one of our favorite stories.
I am thinking about those people I have been reading so much about and how they are separated from their families they love. They have no home. They are watching the people they love, die. They are dying themselves. And they have no choice.
I don’t know what it will be like where I am going, but I am looking forward to meeting these people.