In Namibia, at the edge of southern Africa’s vast Kalihari desert, a very pregnant Angelina Jolie emerged from a private vacation with Brad Pitt and her two adopted children to advocate for 100 million kids across the planet who can't go to school — either because of war, lack of opportunity, or crushing poverty.
Angelina Jolie: People often look at people in situations like this and they think that they are not exactly like us and that they look at them a little differently—that they live in a shanty town. But these people are very smart and they take care of their families.Ann Curry, Dateline co-anchor: They love their children. Jolie: They love their children.Curry: And they want them to go to school…Jolie: And they very much want them to go to school.
According to studies by the Global Campaign for Education, every extra year of school for children in developing countries increases their wage earning potential and decreases their likelihood of getting sick.
Jolie: You could teach them young about hygiene, you could teach them young about protecting themselves from AIDS, you could teach them young about how to take care of their kids, you could teach them young about vaccinations. If every kid was in school every year 700,000 less people would get AIDS. Curry: So education can be not just life-changing but life-saving.Jolie: Absolutely.Curry: Why do you care so much?Jolie: Just because I know my kids, I think of Zahara, she is from a country where 6 million kids don’t go to school every year -- just in her country alone. It's just really tough. Her mother died of AIDS and so they wouldn’t have had any funds to send her to school. Curry: So she would have been the exact child you are trying to help.Jolie: And I know her I know how smart she is and I know what a great lady she is going to be. I know that there are so many girls out there like her that aren’t going to get that chance just because we haven’t figure it out in the world to figure out that education should be free...
We visited the 30-year-old Angelina in Namibia’s Mondesa township. Where we sat down in a small two room school house and discussed education.
Curry: This is a moral challenge, in your view.Jolie: Yeah.Curry: About our stepping up for those in need.Jolie: It’s moral, and it’s also—it’s also smart, you know? All these poor countries, not just Africa, but Asia as well and all poor areas. It’s gonna be places where our kids are either gonna be visiting and working with, and it’s gonna be a different world. Or it’s gonna be worse than it is now.
Angelina has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations on behalf of refugees for the last five years. That work brings her to some of the world’s most dangerous places, like Darfur, in Africa, where the U.S. says genocide is occurring.
Curry: Despite having everything going for you, you have chosen the hard road to travel to all of these tough places, to adopt the way you do. And that’s why people are fascinated with you. You could be in Malibu, living in a beautiful house—Jolie: See, to me, that’s the tough road. (Laughter)Curry: Why is that the tough road? Jolie: I love... adopting my children was the greatest blessing to me. They are the funniest people I’ve ever met. And they’re the greatest joy in my life. And I feel so blessed that I’ve been allowed to adopt them and bring them into my home. So that was no generous thing of mine. Curry: But you’re traveling to Darfur, you’re going to Pakistan to see earthquake victims. Jolie: When I’ve gone to refugee camps or I’ve gone to places to meet earthquake victims, it is certainly not some big sacrifice of mine. There’s nothing poor and horrible and sad about these people. They’ve inspired me.
As a result, Angelina has been spending less time on the sound stages of Hollywood.
Curry: Have you ever thought about leaving the movies and making it full time, this work in trying to change the world?Jolie: Well, I don’t want to be responsible for changing the world. I’ve been just traveling with my family for the last few months and that has been more important than making a film.Curry: But movies? Jolie: Well, for now. It is my job. It is what makes it possible for me to be able to fund the programs I care about.
Like focusing attention on the 40 million children in Africa, most of them girls, who don’t get the opportunity to go to school. It is clear Angelina loves working with children and told us she and Brad are thrilled to be adding another child to the family.
Curry: You’re eight months along almost close—Jolie: No, not yet.Curry: Not yet.Jolie: Not yet, no.Curry: How are you feeling?Jolie: I’m feeling fine. I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve had a very fortunate pregnancy. I didn’t have bad morning sickness time. I haven’t had to slow down, which has been nice for me.Curry: You know what I loved about being pregnant? I loved that feeling of not being alone, of speaking for two. You don’t have that?Jolie: Well, I suppose because I’m always with my kids all the time that I feel like I’m speaking for eight. (Laughter) You know? I suppose it’s more just like having one not sit on the other’s head.But some women are very, very grounded to the earth suddenly. I think I’m still kind of in denial about it.Curry: Denial? Jolie: I still have this kind of funny thing of like I can’t quite believe it. I was always very sure that I would adopt all my children. And I was quite at peace with that. And then things felt different and made some different choices. And we’ll continue to adopt. But now I’m pregnant.Curry: Where does this lead? How many kids do you want, Angie? You’re gonna have three kids. They’re busy. They keep you up at night. They’re—they need—Jolie: We love children, you know? And fortunately, we have the resources to be able to get help where we need it or to have a big enough place. So I think there’s no real plan of stopping. There’s just talk about lots of them. Curry: How do you know when you found one you want to adopt? Jolie: I’m a big believer in just, you know, they find you. So I think—as we travel—yeah, we joke about it now. If I go to visit an orphanage, everybody gets nervous. (Laughter)
People magazine declared the expecting parents and their growing clan to be America’s most beautiful family. And Angelina and Brad want to continue their humanitarian work, which in the last few months have seen them visit earthquake victims in Pakistan and advocate for children in Haiti.
Curry: How nice is it for you to not be on this path alone? And how much is Brad bringing to the table of what you are trying to do with your life? Jolie: Well, without getting so into (laughter) that personal stuff. People know very little about him, I think, when it comes to where his morals are, where his values are, how he is with people, what he cares about, what he’s learned about.And he’s a very aware person. He’s doing a lot of good things. And he’s a great parent. And so certainly it’s nice to watch him do that. And it’s nice for me to be able to talk about the things I care about and with somebody that does as well. Curry: You seem to have become a formidable duo in this world.Jolie: Yeah. (Laughter) It’s just—the idea, I can’t even—It feels so bizarre to just talk about any kind of, you know? So that is why I giggle about it. I just don’t know how to address it.. Curry: Giggling, I understand is something you’re doing a lot more lately. Jolie: I am.Curry: Is it pregnancy? Is it—Jolie: Well, apparently that’s what I’ve gotten from pregnancy. Brad said this to me, too. I get hysterical now. Like hysterical to the point of crying and falling off the bed. Like I get hysterical.Curry: Are you just joyful? Jolie: Or like I’ll try to read, and then I’ll start laughing. It’ll last for like 20 minutes. And then, you know, I’ll sit back down and focus again. He’s reading, and I’m reading. And we’re sitting there really serious and try—and then I’ll just go. Like it’ll go on for—for hours. (Laughter) It’s really horrible.Curry: There was a girl I once met who didn’t know how to laugh very much who once said to me.Jolie: (laughing) Curry: You’re a mess. You’re laughing. You’re hormonal. Keep it up. Get pregnant more often, because this is working.Jolie: Oh, no, that’s what I started to say... I started to say like I was really miserable before – (laughs)Curry: Well, you were once much more serious. And you’re bright and joyful.Jolie: I have a lot to be happy about.
The ultimate goal of the global education drive is that, by the year 2015, children everywhere, both boys and girls, should complete at least a fifth grade education.
In Africa, where Angelina Jolie has focussed so much of her effort, 40 million children are out of school, including more than half of all girls, who never finish elementary school.