International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Ten Refugees, One Journey: Alek Wek

Alek Wek (Photo: Jim Gaffey)

Born in 1977 in southern Sudan, Alek Wek was nine when her family fled that country’s civil war.

Years later, Wek and a younger sister were admitted as refugees to Britain, and in 1994, she won an art scholarship at the London Institute and made her way with side jobs – including cleaning toilets at the BBC.

Then, Hollywood-style, she caught the eye of a talent scout for a modeling agency, and in 1999 People Magazine named her one of the world’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”

Supermodel, handbag designer and actress, Wek is also an active supporter of humanitarian and refugee causes as well organizations fighting AIDS and breast cancer. (November 2010)

Meet other prominent refugees