Angelina Jolie shares a special bond with Cambodia. The relationship began back in 2000, when the actor travelled to the Southeast Asian country to shoot for Tomb Raider, and Cambodia also happens to be the country of origin of the star’s first child, Maddox. Now, the Hollywood star is extending her humanitarian efforts towards the place she holds so close to her heart. This February, Jolie returned to Cambodia with French beauty house Guerlain and UNESCO to launch a special training program. Joined by beekeeper Aggelina Kanellopoulou, a graduate from the first Women for Bees cohort, the actor brought together a selection of women in Siem Reap, the Samlot District and the Tonle Sap UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve, to understand and exchange best practices in beekeeping.
Why beekeeping? Along with pollination, bees also play an integral role in the overall economy and betterment of the environment. And in the case of Cambodia, beekeeping also equals to more employment and more opportunities. “I’ve worked in Cambodia for over 15 years, about 20 years, working on trying to protect different areas while also working with the community. Part of that has been working with bees, not just to protect the bees, but also to help give training and be able to produce honey,” Jolie shared with Vogue Arabia. “We all came together to think of what would be a way that we could do more and focus these efforts, and focused on training women, because we know women train others. We know women are, in many places, very vulnerable. And so to be able to have an education and a job and a network is really important for women.”
The program focuses on educating members about preserving natural honey reserves while still growing. “It can be very grassroots, where you’re really trying to help a community understand how to not destroy the bee population, but still have their honey still profit, ” Jolie elaborates. “You’re also spreading awareness to the younger generation, like in our project, we work with young rangers and you spread it through the young people to educate how you don’t cut down certain hives, what flowers you can plant, what things you can do to help keep the population live and expand it, and how to protect these biospheres and the bees and other creatures within.”