Besides walking the runways for some of the world’s biggest fashion houses, American-Palestinian supermodel Gigi Hadid is also known for continually using her star power to raise awareness on social and humanitarian crises. The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador is currently visiting a shelter supported by the organization in Dakar, Senegal while taking her nearly 51 million Instagram followers on an eye-opening journey.
The photos and videos documenting the 24-year-old model’s visit show her spending time with the children at the shelter for women and girl victims of abuse. “After being raped and/or impregnated from a sexual attack, it is common that these girls are shunned from their families and kicked out of their homes,” wrote Hadid.
Adding: “Employees and volunteers of the shelter, lead by the founder Mona Chasserio and her colleague Danielle Hueges, shown in the photos, encourage the girls to share and find community through their hardship. They are taught to find the positive in their motherhood and relationship with their child, to love and care for them properly, and to nurture their passions, whether it be garment making, agriculture, sports, etc. and learn a skill set that will help them be able to enter the workplace upon their departure from the shelter.
“Not only have about 250 children been born in this shelter in the last 10 years (15 births have taken place between October and November of this year, and the youngest mother being only ten years old), but there are also orphans who are brought to this shelter by Senegal’s Ministry of Justice. Mothers and their children will stay at the shelter until it is agreed upon by themselves and the leaders that they have the confidence, strength, and skills they need to re-enter their communities, and orphans will stay til about 8 years old, when they are permitted by the government to enter a nursing home to be adopted.”
Several heartwarming moments captured in the videos include Hadid cradling a baby in her arms, children playing and women from the shelter smiling at the camera. Since it is also no secret that the model, with her dedicated Instagram account for disposable film images, has a flair for photography, Hadid’s Instagram stories are filled with images taken by her around Dakar. One post also shows handwritten notes taken by Hadid to make sure she has all the right information to share.
The former Vogue Arabia cover star ended her message by writing, “You can donate to this shelter directly at lamaisonrose.org and the boys’ shelter through “Unies ver Elles.” Donations to @unicefsenegal @unicefusa will help fund medical, nutrition, payment to social workers, the Rapid Protection Program & training, to pay for the SMS messaging needed to communicate the reports, and to set up similar systems in more parts of the country.”