Angelina Jolie: Humanitarian Trip To Sierra Leone A Life Changing Moment

As Angelina Jolie promotes her Yugoslav War film, "In the Land of Blood and Honey," one thing is obvious: she cares about the subject matter. In search of authenticity, she shot on location in Bosnia and Serbia, and featured local actors, not Hollywood superstar friends. Consider it part of the Angelina Jolie Humanitarian World Tour, an ever-unfolding trip that has changed her life.

Once known for her early wild partying days and blood vile-ornamented romance, Jolie reveals that the turning point in her life came not in a rehab facility or harsh talk with a publicist, but in the shattered war zone of an African nation.

"I was young, and I was bold, but I didn't have a sense of use. I didn't understand the world, and I didn't understand a sense of perspective that you gain as you get older. I started to travel, and I started to ask questions," she recently told the Orange County Register. "About 11 years ago, I went to Sierra Leone for the first time. It was the first time I was in a war zone. I went to a refugee camp, and I was shell-shocked. Suddenly, the world changed for me. My understanding of the world changed. I never woke up again wanting to be self-destructive, self-possessed or self-pitying in any way. I realized that it was important to wake up every day feeling grateful for your family and for your opportunities."

As a UN Goodwill Ambassador and followed the Sierra Leone trip with countless more visits to impoverished and war-torn nations, including a 2002 stop at the Tham Hin refugee camp in Thailand, a 2003 trip to Tanzania, a 2004 trip to Darfur, 2005's visit in Chad and 2006's travels to Haiti, amongst many others sojourns into the third world. She visited Libya this past fall, and was honored by the UN for her work the last ten years.

Back in 2009, Jolie similarly discussed the impact working with the refugees had on her own perspective on life. Discussing one paralyzed 15-year old boy in Afghanistan, she told CNN, "The things we complain about on a daily basis. He had lost everything and was just so full of laughter and kindness. He passed away a few months after I was there and I always wondered, you know, it's those kind of young people that you meet and you just think, God, in any other situation if this person had been given a chance, what an extraordinary adult he would have been. How extraordinary for his country, for his family, if he ever had a chance to have one. Instead, he had so many horrible things happen to him in his life. He taught me a lot about just the strength, the spirit. I think of him and I can't complain about anything. I can't do anything but be grateful for what I have."

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