United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday to advocate for refugees returning to their home country after almost 10 years of exile.
Jolie said, "The focus [for these refugees] needs to be put now on reintegration, and that means not just putting up shelter but making sure there is water, job opportunities, a school for the children and medical clinics."
Angelina Jolie presents education materials to school children in Qala Gudar. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Academy Award-winning actress and mother of six visited families she had met in 2008. One stop was at a former storage warehouse that is now housing internally displaced or returned refugees. It's a place that should be a temporary home at most.
Jolie visited Khanum Gul and her husband, who live in a small damp room with eight children. A United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) tarpaulin covers a hole in the front wall to keep out the wind and snow.
Jolie with Khanum Gul, 35, a mother of eight and her youngest son, Samir. (Photo: Getty Images)
Khanum had just had her son Samir when she met Jolie in 2008. The child is now two, and Jolie said, "It was very distressing to see that, because of the poor conditions, Samir seems to be suffering some form of developmental delay due to malnutrition or lack of medical care. He can't walk and is barely surviving."
Jolie's visit saw glimmers of hope in Qala Gadu, the village where she is supporting the building of a school.
The United Nations Refugee Agency reported that Qala Gadu was the "scene of fierce fighting during successive waves of conflict in Afghanistan since the late 1970s. Among the 2,500 families in the area, almost everyone is a returned refugee or was internally displaced before 2002."
The actress activist met students who will attend the primary school after it is built. A little girl named Sahira told the actress, "If you build this school, I promise I will work really hard and study until the 12th grade." The 10-year-old is the youngest of five daughters and the first to attend school.