Unless you’ve been living under a rock since…forever, I’m sure you’re well aware of who Angelina Jolie is, but have you heard of a Millennium Village? Here’s a little background. The Millennium Village Project was founded by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, The United Nations Development Programme, and Millennium Promise. They are actual villages, created as a way to end extreme poverty by meeting the Millennium Development Goals, meant to address problems of poverty, health, gender equality, and disease. Millennium Villages are set up to improve basic infrastructural problems such as limited access to clean water, sanitation, education, food production, and health care, and seeks to create environmental stability as a way to ensure people living in extreme poverty will have a lasting chance at lifting themselves out of the poverty trap.
Started as a combination of a result of her many years of work with the UN, which has now spanned decades, and as a way to connect her Cambodian born son Maddox to his heritage, Jolie purchased a home in Cambodia. The home sits adjacent to a national park, a park flooded with poachers, at the time, who threatened the area’s population of black bears, elephants and tigers. Jolie purchased the park and converted it into a wildlife reserve, named the Maddox Jolie Project, after her son. This was back in 2003. In 2006 the area was renamed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Project (MJP) and turned into Asia’s very first Millennium Village.
This year, a large focus of the MJP has been the improvement of agriculture in the area with food security in mind. As a way to measure the difference that was being made by MJP, volunteers took field surveys with farmers, also targeting widows and vulnerable families. According to the official MJP website : “The results of the 2010 survey showed that, on average, most vulnerable households… faced food shortages for 4 months a year. Some…did face food shortages throughout the whole year and others… experience food shortages from 3 to 6 months… vulnerable families live in sub-villages, which are often more remote and isolated than the main village, with little to no arable land.” With these statistics bought to the attention of the MJP health team a new program was put into place to educate families on nutritional well-being. In addition to that, back in 2010, MJP started 41 field training schools for farmers focusing on livestock and crop production, and this continues today. For information on volunteering with MJP please click here !
Although the focus of the organization in this article serves to benefit Cambodia, don’t see this as the end Mrs. Jolie – Pitt’s reach. She has gone into war zones and participated in field missions in various locations in Africa, South and Central America and the Middle East. Jolie-Pitt has also established refugee homes, medical centers for children affected by HIV and tuberculosis, including the Zahara Medical Center, named after her daughter, in her birth place of Ethiopia, and schools in parts of the world that need it most, and her political and governmental involvement in attempt to help the disenfranchised has been phenomenal!