Notes From My Travels by Angelina Jolie
Notes From My Travels is a journal written by award-winning actress Angelina Jolie, 39, during her visit to refugee camps around the world with UNHCR. The talented star is a goodwill ambassador to, and was also recently presented honorary damehood by Queen Elizabeth II.
When I posted the above picture on my Instagram, a few people commented and privately messaged me saying they never knew she had a book. Yes, it's one of those underrated reads out there but trust me, it's life-changing. In this book, she writes about her trip to Ecuador, Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan/Afghanistan and Colombia.
In her introduction, she mentioned beforehand that she's not a writer and this was simply her journal but that's what makes the book so special. Her writing is raw and unpolished. It's effortlessly honest so you get to experience how she felt without any exaggerations.
The most common theme in this book is gratitude. "I realize more every day how fortunate I have been in my life I hope I never forget and never complain again about anything," she writes. Not only was she grateful, she also mentions how grateful the refugees were with what little they had.
Today when you grab your smartphone and get into your air-conditioned car to get to your air-conditioned office, remember that there are people who do not even have a pinch of what you have and yet they appreciate and embrace life more than you do.
In regards to God and religion, she writes: "You would think these would be the last people on earth to believe that, and yet you realize they have a deeper understanding because of all they went through." This is true, in my experience those that live in poverty and extreme hardship are blessed with profound wisdom.
They practise their faith with such love and devotion. They do not suffer from a holier-than-thou complex. They are loving and their hearts are brimming with gratitude. We can learn a thing or two on how to improve our spirituality based on their way of living.
Cambodia is where she met her adopted son Maddox therefore it's no surprise that she has a great love for that country.
"These people live in such poor conditions, and yet they have such a beautiful spirit. Everyone is working, and their children all seem so happy," she writes. "Past the sadness and self-pity these people accept the reality of their lives and are grateful for all they have."
How amazing is that?
During her trip to Pakistan, she met Afghan refugees and the women she met spoke of their lives before the Taliban. When describing Afghan women, she said: "Their eyes smile through their veils."
"I want to get a list of what the Koran actually teaches compared with the Taliban's interpretation of the Koran's religious laws and sacred teachings. I think that it is important for all of us to understand and know the difference."
I find it despicable when people oppress others in the name of 'religion'. The taliban, KKK, the Burmese monks persecuting Rohingya Muslims and ISIS all do this. It's cowardly. It's weak to want to control others due to your ego and prejudices and then hide behind the name of religion. I know that for many people around the world, their faith liberates and empowers them as it does for me.
At times when I read this book, I couldn't help but weep. It's unfair that there are millions around this world with little to no access to clean water, food and have to flee their countries due to war. Angelina herself summed it up quite nicely:
"The imbalance of funding in the world makes no sense to me."
But I suppose, despite lacking in wealth, freedom and basic resources, these refugees have something that a lot of free people do not possess. Their eyes twinkle with gratitude and their smiles are sincere. They know that life is valuable therefore they live in a way that makes life so much more meaningful.
"... if you've met them [refugees], they are also some of the strongest, most beautiful, most capable people in the world. Amazing survivors.
During Angelina's trip to Afghanistan Angie's experience with the refugees was sobering but it did impact her state of mind. "The mind wants to forget because it hurts and weighs so much on the heart and soul."
Now isn't that relatable? Unless you're incredibly lucky to have never experienced heartache, I can assume that we all know how it feels like to want to block out pain whatever the reason may be.
I have the utmost respect for Angelina Jolie because humanitarian work requires a lot of emotional and mental strength. She left the comforts of her luxurious lifestyle to visit these places to spread awareness.
As a woman we have our maternal instincts; I know it's hard for any woman to see others, especially children and women suffering. It's a natural inclination to want to protect and nurture others that are vulnerable. I think Angie took a brave step by visiting those refugee camps.
Overall, this book is highly recommend to fans of the movie star and those who want to know more about what's happening in UN refugee camps around the world. All proceeds from this book are donated to UNHCR so you're helping the refugees with every purchase. So worth it.
This blog post is 1 of 2 new series I'm putting on my blog called 'bookworm series' and the second one is 'hiking series' - check them out under the labels at the bottom of this blog. Since I read and go hiking quite often, I thought it'd be worth blogging about it especially since reading and hiking are two things that I looove doing. I honestly can't remember if I've ever reviewed or recommended a book on this blog but this post will definitely be the first of many. InsyaAllah!
Hope you guys enjoyed this first entry of the 'bookworm series'.