The charity for underprivileged children founded by Colombian pop star Shakira is to open its sixth special school in the singer’s native country.
The singer established Pies Descalzos in 1995 to improve education, nutrition, and the lives of the thousands of displaced children living in perilous conditions because of the violent internal conflict in Colombia.
“We are going to open our sixth school,” said Shakira. “We provide an education and nutrition for over [6000 kids], in areas that have been devastated by extreme poverty. Colombia [has the second] largest amount of displaced people. We don’t have refugee camps but millions of people lost everything they had and kids don’t have access to an education.
“From the moment I had my first international success at 18, I decided to establish this foundation. It’s taught me a lot and fascinates me – you see first hand how education is such a powerful tool.”
A trip to the remote, poverty stricken location marks Shakira’s continued presence in the effort to create educational opportunities for disadvantaged children in her home country.
In an environment of extreme poverty and violence, the presence of the Foundation’s school means that students, 750 pupils in all, can learn in a safe facility and receive clean uniforms and one meal per day—the only guarantee for food for many of the children.
Providing access to education for those most in need has been a priority for the charity. Shakira reported to the BBC that, “One-hundred per cent of our kids that we have in our school here have been displaced or have families that have fled their home towns.”
The pop star’s efforts have not gone unnoticed for the citizens of Chocó, where excitement at the news of her arrival stems not only from Shakira’s status as a music icon, but also because of the impact of her school on the local community.
On a national level, Shakira’s goal for better education is beginning to get the notice of the Colombian government. In February, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe attended the opening ceremony for Pies Descalzos’ fifth flagship school, and awarded the singer a medal in recognition of her leadership.
When asked by a reporter why she chooses to do this type of work, she answered simply—“Why wouldn’t I?”
“Having been born and raised in a country like this one, being from a developing country impacts you and affects you in a different way. You just want to grow up and can’t wait to be someone in life to change the stuff that sometimes you feel so frustrated about…the stuff that I grew up seeing and not being able to settle for.”
Source: Look to the stars