Radio review: Angelina Jolie Pitt impresses on Women's Hour

Nuala McCann

Woman's Hour Takeover Week

She is an actor, film director and United Nations special envoy for refugees.

In the Woman's Hour takeover week, Angelina Jolie Pitt was much more real than all those glamorous pictures in the glossy magazines.

She came across as articulate, well-informed, earnest and passionate.

Interviewed by Jenni Murray, the conversation was a million miles from the pages of Hello magazine.

What is it like, as a woman, to have a bout of cystitis or a child of asthma in a refugee camp, asked Jenni.

“I met a woman two weeks ago whose child died of asthma,” said Jolie Pitt.

She painted a picture of the raw moment when someone's whole life is swept from under their feet.

“Think about your life, who you are - a businesswoman; a lawyer; a doctor; a housewife,” she said, “and then, it's over in a moment.”

“And then you are asked to pack a bag and you are going to carry it for weeks and take your children. You will leave everything you have and you will never go back to your home.”

The average stay in a refugee camp is 17 years and in that time, you must survive alongside 500,000 others with similar needs, she said.

Health is a luxury. In some camps there is no soap. Cancer means certain death.

Jolie Pitt took the reins and used her time to press home a grim point. The anguish of the camps and her sincere desire to make people aware shone through.

Scots Makar – the Scottish national poet – Jackie Kay read a beautiful poem on her guest edition.

She talked about “complex grief” when you're made to feel that your grief doesn't count – if you're outside the family or family arrangements and you're not sure you should go to the funeral.

For her, it meant the death of her birth mother – and her place – or lack of it – at the funeral.

Her poem was unbearably beautiful and so sad.

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