Salma Hayek‘s passion for helping others was instilled in her at a young age.
“My parents drilled into our heads — my brother and I—‘ You treat everyone the same,’ ” says Hayek, 50, one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World. The actress, who has long been an advocate for women’s rights, says that “treat everyone the same” mantra helped shape her sense of empathy.
“[My father] was always helping people. We are definitely problem-solvers.” Hayek says of her family. “This creates, I think, a very easy environment to preserve the empathy that you are born with as a child and to always put yourself in the shoes of others and then care for the others.”
Today Hayek is involved with several organizations which are effecting important change for women. She is on the board of the Kering Foundation, which combats violence against women, and Chime for Change, a campaign led by Gucci to promote women’s rights worldwide.
Hayek is also an advocate for refugees and recently began sponsoring a small orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, which she found out about via HALO organization founder Rebecca Welsh. “I have so much respect for her. She’s now working with this orphanage in Mexico and is helping so that we can continue to grow it” says the Mexico-born star. “These children are sexual-violence victims, and the majority are orphans from the drug wars in Mexico. It’s a very small operation, and this is what I love about it. Right now they only have 45 [children]. When it’s a small operation like that, you can really care for them, but they would like to expand.”
WATCH: Salma Hayek’s New Initiative
The actress adds that she has a lot of hope for the orphanage. ” I have a lot of hope for this new initiative and I’m really hoping that your readers might want to also be a part of it, says Hayek. “We would like to expand to care for maybe 20 more children, but any kind of help makes a huge difference.” For more information about how to help, visit the organization’s donation page.
And don’t think that Hayek, who is mom to daughter Valentina, 9, with husband François-Henri Pinault, is the only one giving her time and attention to these charitable causes. The actress says she, like her father before her, happily includes her family in her charitable endeavors.
“For Valentina, it’s normality. It’s part of her language,” says Hayek.