I never was big into following the lives of the stars, and I can't say that has changed much, but there is something to be said for Angelina Jolie. I have always been impressed by her love and interest in humanitarian issues in Africa. As a movie star, she can raise global awareness in a way that someone, say, like me, just can't. She has given money for Darfur; she has adopted African children, and even gave birth to one of her children in Namibia. There are some similarities between Angelina and me, so I thought I'd take my latest blog post to point them out for you (in case you hadn't already noticed).
While Jolie gives money to Darfur, I work with the African Union soldiers who go there as peace-keepers. Seriously. That's my job. I am a French-speaking actress working for humanitarian issues.
While Jolie adopts children from Africa, I too have been asked to do the same. It's not at all unusual traditionally for a Senegalese woman to give her baby to her best friend to raise. Close friends are like family, and it's an honor to know your friend will raise your baby as her own. I learned about this practice in my first month or two living in Senegal, while taking Wolof language classes. We learned a lot of vocabulary through study of cultural values. I never imagined that nearly ten years later I would be asked to consider adopting my dear friend's baby. In the cooler months of 2006, when sweet baby Mareme was not yet 2 years old, her mother asked me, if anything should happen to her, to adopt Mareme and take her back to the States to raise her as my own. What an honor to be asked. What a weight to consider how I could do this. How could I take a baby away from the rest of her family if she had just lost her mother, my friend? I prayed that my friend would keep her good health, and live to raise her daughter to adulthood. Sadly, the following year, Mareme fell quite ill at the end of the rainy season last October, and passed away after a month of illness. Mareme was adorable, sweet, funny, and yes, she was jolie too.