Iman on philanthropy and her refugee past

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“When I was discovered as a model in Kenya, I was a refugee,” says supermodel Iman. “We literally escaped Somalia and came to Kenya as refugees with just the clothes on our backs.”

“I was really inspired by the nongovernmental organizations, the NGOs like CARE, that were on the ground helping us, helping young girls and women by finding them jobs and food. The NGOs also helped girls and women avoid sexual harassment, assault and rape. For a young girl, navigating life as a refugee in another country can be a minefield.”

On Tuesday, CARE — the esteemed anti-poverty and humanitarian organization founded in 1945 — revealed that supermodel, activist and entrepreneur Iman has been appointed its first-ever global advocate. The role was specifically created for Iman, now 64, who will work with CARE to strengthen its ongoing mission to end poverty, with an emphasis on aiding refugee girls and women both domestically and internationally.

“This is the work that moves me. I have been involved with quite a lot of charities, but what moves my heart is women and girls. Since I was a refugee myself and because I’ve known the plight of women and girls myself, through my own journey in life, I was aware of what CARE does and I was aware of their long history,” Iman tells THR of the agency, which originated the “care package” in 1946 during post-World War II relief efforts. “So, we came up with the global advocate role, where it’s about finding out what really impacts women and girls around the world and here at home in America.” 

She adds, “We have to think of refugees collectively as humans. They’re not nameless, they’re not faceless, they’re not just people who come from far away. These are people who are at the U.S.-Mexico border right now. I am one of them. People usually don’t understand who a refugee is. I am the face of a refugee.”

Michelle Nunn, CARE CEO and former U.S Senate candidate, couldn’t think of a better person to partner with. “Iman really represents CARE’s purpose and mission, the strength of women around the world and also the capacity to create change in the world,” Nunn says. “This cause has never been more important if you think about the fact that, for the first time in history since World War II, we have never had more people displaced in the world, including right here in America. We were thrilled that Iman was willing to accept this mantle.”

To “truly understand” CARE’s operations, Iman tells THR that she plans to visit refugees in person. “I have to go on the ground and see it for myself. I want to empower girls and women who are in camps, whether it’s in Syria or at the U.S.-Mexico border,” she says. “I want to see that they are taken care off and feel safe.”

[The Hollywood Reporter]

This entry was posted in , , , by Grant Montgomery.

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