She has been the face of Gucci, Estee Lauder, and Fendi et al and graced numerous high-profile international women magazine covers. Yet closest to her heart is the plight of women and children, particularly in Africa.
Regina Jere-Malanda looks at the fabulous life of the fabulous Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede whose stirring mission to seek change and improve the health and well being of mothers and children is admirably moving.
Famous for her haunting, yet angelic beauty, Liya Kebede truly embodies the cliche "not just a pretty face". Indeed there is more to this beauty and mother of two than what most Hollywood superstars / f could boast of. She is proof that the life of a supermodel is not just about pouting, photoshoots, or strutting on those famous catwalks in designer gear.
The minute you have children, you realise you want to leave a better world for your kids," Liya Kebede says of her quest to better the lives of women and children as the World Health Organisation (WHO) goodwill ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health-a post she has held for the past three years and which she is further supporting with her Liya Kebede Foundation.
Dedicated to mothers and children, the foundation is committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and also aims at increasing awareness and visibility of the importance of basic medical interventions, which are extremely effective in improving the health and survival of mothers and children.
Liya supports the promotion and use of proven and simple, low-cost technologies to reduce maternal and child mortality; the education of health care workers, and to improve the quality and access to medical care for high-risk and vulnerable mothers and children; and she also supports community-based education and community projects to improve knowledge and practices of maternal and child health in order to reduce illness and mortality.
She said in a recent interview: "I grew up in Ethiopia, where it was very common to hear about women losing their lives during childbirth-to the point where, when I was pregnant with my son in the US, I worried, because I thought it was sort of normal for a woman to die while giving birth. As a goodwill ambassador for the WHO, I would do media interviews discussing maternal and child deaths in developing nations, and people would say, 'My God, what can I do to help? I thought, everyone wants to get involved--I have to give them something to...