Priyanka Chopra visits Syrian refugees, plays with kids, calls for peace

Published: September 11, 2017
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PHOTO: Lindsey Leger

PHOTO: Lindsey Leger

Actor Priyanka Chopra said that the world must do more to help Syrian refugee children get an education. After chatting and joking with young refugees at an after-school centre in Jordan’s capital, the Baywatch beauty seemed to be on a mission, reports Hindustan Times

A UNICEF goodwill ambassador and Bollywood and Hollywood star, Chopra said that if the governments don’t help with the donations, maybe individuals can.

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“We need to take it into our own hands because this is our world and we only have one of it,” Chopra told The Associated Press at the end of her first day in Jordan.

“I think the world needs to understand that this is not just a Syrian refugee crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis,” she stated.

Without sufficient support, “this can be an entire generation of kids that could turn to extremism because they have not gotten an education,” she said in an interview.

It was reported that around 5 million Syrians have fled civil war in their homeland since 2011, many settling in nearby Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

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Meanwhile, UN and international aid agencies supporting the refugees routinely face large funding gaps.

On Sunday, Chopra, a light gray scarf slung over her hair, visited a UNICEF-backed children’s centre in Jordan’s capital of Amman.

Chopra later said she was moved by the hopefulness of the children she met.

“Some of them want professional careers, some of them want to go back to their countries and rebuild,” she said. “Parents … want that for their children.”

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Chopra said that she didn’t realise until working in America that it’s “difficult for a woman of colour” to be cast in a wide range of roles.

She said change will come when “people like me and other people, other actors that are coming in from other parts of the world, in global entertainment …we dig our feet in and say I don’t want to only play the stereotype of what you expect me to be.”

“It’s a fight, it’s a battle, and I am not afraid to fight it,” she said.

She recalled being insecure about her looks as a teenager.

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“I was considered darker toned, so in my head, I was not pretty and that’s the ideology,” said Chopra, who once did an ad for a skin lightening cream, a decision she later regretted. At the same time, she said she’s seen “a lot of girls who are light-skinned in America who say, ‘I am too pale, I’m not pretty’.”

In India, she has become selective, preferring more complex roles to the pretty girl parts of her early days.

Chopra is also producing films in regional languages, to create an outlet for artists who might otherwise by overlooked by the Hindu-language Bollywood juggernaut. The latest is a film about two refugee children who come from Nepal to India.

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