Alek Wek and UNHCR
Having helped redefine concepts of beauty in the fashion world, Alek Wek was a perfect fit for the UN refugee agency. Her career in the fashion industry combined with her experiences of conflict and forced displacement make her a force to be reckoned with. Today, Wek is as well known for her advocacy efforts on behalf of the less fortunate as she is for modelling some of the world's top brands.
Wek first collaborated with the UNHCR in 2000 for the "Respect" campaign, which marked the agency's 50th anniversary. Since 2011, Wek has been an active supporter of UNHCR, doing much to raise awareness about the plight of forcibly displaced people in Africa. She joined UNHCR's advocacy efforts as a delegate to the first Refugee Congress in Washington, D.C., which was convened to discuss and offer advice on issues affecting the lives of refugees in the United States.
She also spoke on behalf of UNHCR at the "Educate a Child" launch event in Qatar, hosted by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. The initiative aims to give vulnerable children access to education in some of the world's most challenging environments. It has a focus on refugees and internally displaced people.
In 2012, the supermodel returned to her native South Sudan with UNHCR to mark the nation's first anniversary. During her stay she met with refugees from Sudan and visited UNHCR programmes aimed at helping the many hundreds of thousands of refugees rebuild their lives. She sought to raise particular attention on the need for education, access to health care, and agriculture.