Angelina Jolie Purchased Over 120,000 Acres In Cambodia & Creates A Wildlife Preserve
As part of her long list of humanitarian endeavors, Angelina Jolie has purchased 60,000 hectares of Cambodian land that was infiltrated by poachers and turned it into a wildlife reserve. Some of the former poachers were employed as rangers.
It all started in 2003 when she intended to reconnect her son Maddox to his Cambodian heritage by purchasing a traditional home in the province of Northwestern Battambang. The home sat on 39 hectacres.
The home was adjacent to a national park infiltrated with poachers who threatened the dwindling populations of Asian black bears, Asian elephants, and Indochinese tigers. So she purchased the surrounding 60,000 hectares and turned the area into a wildlife reserve named for her son, the Maddox Jolie Project. In recognition of her conservation efforts, King Norodom Sihamoni awarded her Cambodian citizenship on July 31, 2005.
In 2006, Jolie expanded the scope of the project—renamed the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Project (MJP)—to create Asia’s first Millennium Village, in accordance with UN development goals. She was inspired by a meeting with the founder of Millennium Promise, noted economist Jeffrey Sachs, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where she was an invited speaker in 2005 and 2006.
By 2007, some 6000 villagers and 72 employees—some of them former poachers employed as rangers—lived and worked at MJP, in ten villages previously isolated from one another. The compound includes schools, roads, and a soy milk factory, all funded by Jolie. To this day her home functions as the MJP field headquarters.
In addition to the facilities at MJP, Jolie has built at least ten other schools in Cambodia, and funds the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center, a care facility for children affected by HIV, in the capital Phnom Penh. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the birthplace of her daughter, she funds the Zahara Children’s Center, which treats children suffering from HIV or tuberculosis. Both centers are run by the Global Health Committee. She has also built schools elsewhere in the world, including a school and a boarding facility for girls at Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya, a school for girls in Tangi, Afghanistan, and another girls-only school in the Afghan capital Kabul. These facilities and other projects are funded through the Jolie–Pitt Foundation, which Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt established in September 2006.
Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni has signed a special decree giving actress Angelina Jolie Cambodian citizenship in recognition of her environmental work in the country. “The King signed the legal paper and that means she now has Cambodian citizenship,” Toun Siphan, director of the government’s international relation department, told Reuters. The actress, who adopted her son Maddox, from Cambodia, has agreed to donate $5 million dollars over the next 15 years to set up a wildlife sanctuary in a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in the northwestern province of Battambang
Jolie, first fell in love with the war-scarred southeast Asian nation while filming the action movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
The project aims to protect more than 20,000 hectares (49,500 acres) of forest in northwest Cambodia, which five years ago was still controlled by remnants of the brutal ultra-communist Khmer Rouge, responsible for the genocide of the “Killing Fields.”
You can visit the website for her MJP project in Cambodia at http://www.mjpasia.org/