Reese Witherspoon gave her teenage daughter Ava a first-hand look at the refugee crisis in Africa by taking her to the Kakuma Camp in Kenya after wrapping harrowing new movie The Good Lie.
The actress, who plays a Kansas-based employment agency counselor trying to help three Sudanese refugees, had to get special permission to take her kid to the camp, but she is glad she made the effort because it helped Ava understand how lucky she is not to live in a war zone.
Witherspoon tells WENN, “At the end of the film we got to go to the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Even though I didn’t shoot any scenes there I wasn’t ready to go home to my life. I really wanted to see what the experience was like, so I took my teenage daughter.
“She’s a wonderful, socially-conscious girl. I was lucky they organised for her to be there because she is a little young to be on these trips. She didn’t say a word the whole day and didn’t talk about it until a couple of days later. It stayed with us for a long time after.
“I think the memories we saw of women giving birth on metal tables, babies her brother’s age sitting on concrete slabs and sleeping with seven other brothers and sisters. It was very emotional seeing 250,000 displaced people sleeping on concrete slabs and the sprawl of 12 different languages being spoken and seven kinds of religions with very little healthcare and very little food.
“What was really amazing was the joy of these people to rise above and their determination to have a better life for their children. Their spirit was just incredible. They’d greet you with smiles and laughter and hugs. It just really brought it home to me that this is an opportunity to raise awareness but it’s also an opportunity to create change. These are people who were at the top of their field; they’re doctors, they’re educators, they’re community leaders and they’ve been displaced.
“It’s been really educational for me to learn about refugees and their contributions to society and hopefully we can lift more of them up out of their situations.”