Jane Aronson: The Guardian Angel
Women of the year 2009
She is a Woman of the Year because: “She has a heart the size of Texas and a drive like Tiger Woods, and she has made a huge difference to countless children and their families.”
—Hugh Jackman, actor and longtime supporter of Worldwide Orphans Foundation
November 3, 2009
............“What got to me most was the smell,” says pediatrician Jane Aronson of her years touring overseas orphanages in the nineties, “that terrible odor of filth and illness and neglect.”
Once home, she couldn’t shake the sights she’d seen: famished, sore-covered babies in Romania; glassy-eyed AIDS-doomed kids in Vietnam. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” says Aronson. “There was no way I was going to continue practicing medicine without helping the kids left behind.”
Her solution: Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), which she started in 1997. “A lot of people give lip service to wanting to make the world better for children. She actually does it.” ...........
“Too many orphans? Actually, there are probably far more than 133 million, anyway. The question is: How do we, in a thoughtful way, organize ourselves to be able to work collaboratively to create models - 'tool kits' - to make orphan care culturally appropriate and replicable?" Jane's goal - through therapy, education, and enrichment - is "to transform orphaned children into our world's future Thought Leaders."
She is a recipient of the Congressional Angel of Adoption Award in September 2000.
As a child advocate, Jane has decided to become more public in her thoughtfulness, producing policy papers on orphans, their care and future. "President Obama rose from grassroots advocacy," she noted. "The old-fashioned way is efficient and can be modernized with Web 2.0 applications. The field of child advocacy needs to be modernized."
Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs are as important to Head Start and No Child Left Behind as to orphanages in Ethiopia, Bulgaria, and Viet Vietnam. Early intervention is key, says Jane. "To hire 'grannies' - retired school teachers and child care professionals - to come into our orphanages, helps to increase developmental skills, to move our kids from 'outcast' into general society." She is the adoptive mom of two sweet boys, Ben, from Viet Nam and Desalegn, from Ethiopia
Since 1997, she has conducted research and provided education in orphanages abroad through her 501(3) (c) foundation, Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO documents the medical and developmental conditions of children living in orphanages abroad in order to identify their immediate health care needs and to advocate for their well-being through the Orphan Ranger Program.
This program acts as a “peace corps” for orphanages by commissioning university students and health care professionals to live and work in orphanages. They are proficient in the native tongue and work in conjunction with staff to improve the nutritional and emotional health of abandoned children.
Since 1997, Dr. Aronson has funded Orphan Rangers in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, India, Ecuador, Viet Nam, China, Serbia, Montenegro, and Ethiopia. WWO has been granted NGO status in Viet Nam and Ethiopia and has embarked on training programs for physicians in both countries to care for HIV-infected orphans.WWO currently treats orphans with HIV/AIDS in both countries.
Since July 2000, Dr. Aronson has been in private practice as Director of International Pediatric Health Services, in New York City. She is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and had evaluated well over 4,000 children adopted from abroad as an adoption medicine specialist; she has travelled to orphanages in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Latin America.
People Magazine October 26, 2005
One thing Angelina Jolie has realized since becoming a mom to Maddox, 4, and Zahara, 9 months is that she wants to adopt again.
At the gala event, which Jolie attended with brother James Haven (beau Brad Pitt was in Winnipeg filming), the actress announced she is partnering with Dr. Jane Aronson, the foundation's founder, to build a pediatric AIDS center in Ethiopia, where Zahara was born.