I nominate Audrey Hepburn as my 4th woman of substance, not  for her exquisite taste and impeccable style - but for her humanitarian work with The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). She was an actress of great fame. But in her later years she dedicated herself to being a good will ambassador  with the desire to make a difference for children trapped in war torn parts of the world.

Though born in to a noble family, her mother was a dutch baroness, Audrey, found herself caught in the crosshairs of World War II. Her mother's home and her wealth were confiscated by the Nazis. The lack of food turned the previously chubby Audrey in to a skin and bones young lady.

She employed her passion for ballet performing for Nazi sympathizers. The money she earned she donated to the resistance. The symmetry and beauty of that is what makes her in my eyes an extraordinary woman. The kind of role model you want young and even old people to have.

It was a life full of unimaginable difficulties and heroism.

Her mother and her family were all working with the resistance. Her uncle and cousin were executed, before her own eyes. Her brother, was sent to a german labor camp. She, narrowly escaped being sent to one herself. In an abandoned basement she found safe haven, commingling with rats and sleeping on top of old newspapers and garbage. She subsisted by eating morsels from an apple she carried in her pocket and a chunk of bread. After 30 days in seclusion she returned home having contracted asthma and hepatitis.

Fluent in English and French, she continued her support for the resistance by serving as a messenger and translator for the Allied Forces. She was 16 years old by the time the war ended. Cash broke and with their possessions destroyed. Audrey and her mother found their way back to Amsterdam where the baroness became employed as a chef. Audrey continued her ballet training. Eventually moving with her mother to London. The baroness, then found employment as a florist while Audrey obtained a dance scholarship with a ballet company of very high repute. Not believing herself a great talent as a dancer, Audrey abandoned the ballet and ventured in to modeling and acting.

In 1987, after having lived a hugely successful life as an actress,Audrey, became associated with UNICEF. She used her fame to raise funds, procure food, medicine and all that was needed to save the children.

She travelled to 128 countries bringing a message of compassion, good will and cheer.

It was while attending to the needs of children in Somalia that she felt the first symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as colon cancer. She died 63. A mere youngster from my vantage point of nearly sixty.

 

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