Every year, I have the opportunity to meet new heroes--inspirational individuals who work tirelessly to support children in crisis around the world. These heroes play a critical role in a world where millions of children are affected by violence, poverty, disease and other unfortunate circumstances.
Last month in New York, I met with a personal hero of mine named Nathalie, a young woman from Haiti. Her story not only moved me when I first heard it, but showed me just how important it is for us to support the world's most vulnerable children.
When Nathalie was one year old, her mother died due to complications during childbirth, leaving her poor and unemployed father alone and unable to care for her and her five siblings. When Nathalie was three, her father made a difficult but brave decision: he placed his youngest three children in the care of an SOS Children's Village located in Santo, Haiti.
At the SOS Village, Nathalie was raised in a family-like environment headed by an SOS Mother, a staff member who served as a dedicated and loving caregiver. The love and care from her SOS Mother provided Nathalie what she needed to thrive at home and excel in school. After high school, she went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and later graduated in 2010 from law school at the University of Florida.
Soon after law school, Nathalie moved back to Haiti after she was selected as a Jolie Legal Fellow for the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. For three years, she worked with government officials to implement policies designed to protect Haiti's most vulnerable children. She also played an integral role in reforming international adoption in Haiti. Today, Nathalie works in Florida as a family law attorney, defending the rights of at-risk children in the state.
From vulnerable child to a defender of vulnerable children, Nathalie has overcome the odds to be where she is today. She has shown me what children are capable of when they are given protection and a loving, stable home.
As 2015 comes to a close, I look around the world and see children--much like Nathalie was--who have so much potential but need our support to realize it. From the rebuilding efforts in Nepal to the growing migrant crisis in Eastern Europe, children need us now more than ever.
This holiday season, let us come together and be heroes for children in crisis. Our heroism today has the power to change the course of a vulnerable child's life forever--much like it did for Nathalie.
You can be a hero for a child in crisis. Your support can help provide vulnerable children with a safe and loving home, quality education, healthy food, medical care and other basic necessities. Each donation made to SOS Children's Villages - USA through December 31, 2015 will be matched dollar for dollar. Learn more today.