Sharon Stone has taken part in an emotional conversation with Syrian refugee and doctor, Dr. Heval Kelli.
Speaking as part of the Liberatum initative Lifesaving Conversations, the award-winning actress talked to Dr Kelli about the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and society’s most vulnerable.
The conversation series, which also features Michael Douglas and Zoe Saldana, aims to shine a light on extraordinary human beings from the front lines helping communities.
In conversation: Sharon Stone has taken part in an emotional conversation with Syrian refugee and doctor, Dr. Heval Kelli about the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and society’s most vulnerable
Sharon’s conversation for the series was with Dr. Kelli, a Syrian refugee turned doctor and activist saving lives in Atlanta.
Sharon broke down in tears as Dr. Kelli described his early life as a refugee, when he was forced to flee Syria as a child, live in refugee camps in Germany before coming to the US within weeks of 9/11.
Explaining how there are 70 million displaced refugees in the world, Dr. Kelli told Sharon: ‘There is a sentiment of “we don’t want refugees in America” but I was that refugee. I came here in 2001, I was welcomed by Christian church members, even after 9/11 I was still welcomed’.
‘So what happened? You say you don’t want Syrian refugees but I am that rufugee. How do you think that makes me feel? Because I am a doctor, you want me here? What about when I was 18 and washing dishes? I just don’t understand how we can forget that people start from somewhere.’
Emotional: Sharon and Dr. Kelli were speaking as part of the Liberatum initative Lifesaving Conversations, which aims to shine a light on extraordinary human beings on the frontline
‘During this time, one third of the doctors in America are immigrants or refugees,’ he continued, describing his and his doctor wife’s work with community leaders on educating them on what ‘the simple terms of COVID is.’
The doctor told Sharon he has never before experienced the scale of a pandemic like COVID, explaining: ‘The pressure of being a physician is to protect your patient and protect yourself, but we don’t really worry about ourself because we want to do the best job.’
‘We have an additional pressure now. I come home, I have two elderly parents, god forbid one of them gets it from me because I’m a carrier or I don’t have any symptoms. Whose going to take care of them? And I have a baby.’
Extraordinary life: Sharon’s conversation for the series was with Dr Heval Kelli, a Syrian refugee and doctor saving lives in Atlanta
Saving lives: Sharon broke down in tears as Dr. Kelli described his early life as a refugee, when he was forced to flee Syria as a child, live in refugee camps in Germany before coming to the US within weeks of 9/11.
‘People ask me how serious is COVID? And I say to them, never in my lifetime have I had to go into my garage, strip down down to my underwear and take a shower before I can see anyone of my family, I’ve never had to do that.’
‘It’s a very humbling experience, We live in one of the most advanced countries in the world, think about people who don’t have access to hospitals.’
Sharon went on to describe her experience of seeing the devastating HIV/AIDScrisis in the 1980s during her trips to Africa, comparing the overrun hospitals and lack of treatment available to ‘being on the frontline for COVID, with no ability to help anybody.’
Tears: Sharon broke down in tears as Dr. Kelli explained how there are 70 million displaced refugees in the world
She told Dr Kelli that she had ‘an existential crisis’ after being nominated for a Golden Globe for Basic Instinct in 1993 and questioned what fame was when her nomination was laughed at.
‘I started to recognise how fame was a tool… I started to question if I was so powerful as an actress and it was still a joke what was the point of being “the biggest actress” if it didn’t have any real meaning or respect?’ she said.
‘I started to think about, perhaps I should start to apply my fame to something with real meaning or value,’ leading to her work as an activist, particularly within HIV/AIDS awareness.
Liberatum is the global multidisciplinary cultural diplomacy organisation. The Lifesaving Conversations series, as well as shining a light on individuals and communities with extraordinary stories, also aims to provide emergency food and cash relief to vulnerable communities in need the world.
It is in partnership with preeminent philanthropic organisations such as UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency, Feeding America, World Central Kitchen, FoodFoward South Africa, The Trussell Trust UK, Amigos do Bem in Brazil and GiveIndia.
Global crisis: The doctor told Sharon he has never before experienced the scale of a pandemic like COVID