By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press Writer
Shakira said Barefoot, known as Pies Descalzos in her native Colombia, will start focusing on children worldwide later this year.
“We have a model that works. Under less than $2 a day, we can provide a kid with top quality education and the nutrition that they need to be able to function and be able to learn because a kid with an empty stomach cannot learn,” said the singer, a multiplatinum superstar known for hits like “Hips Don’t Lie.”
“So this model that has been so successful in my country, now I want to bring it to other countries in my small way.”
Shakira made the comments Wednesday after appearing at Columbia University with Spanish singing sensation Alejandro Sanz and the presidents of Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, El Salvador and Panama. The event focused on the importance of education, nutrition and health intervention for Latin American children. The singers asked the presidents to adopt an agreement on combatting child poverty during the upcoming Iberoamerican Summit in late October.
“The presidents seem very committed and that’s what we need. We need all the leaders of Latin America to have a definite commitment toward our children (because) the children of Latin America are waiting for opportunities,” said Shakira in an interview after conference.
“Where I come from every child who is born poor will die poor and we have to change this, and this is the moment to do it. We are at the threshold of a new wave of awareness and sensibility toward our children’s issues. But early childhood development should be at the top of our priorities and at the top of every president’s agenda.”
In attendance were Mexican President Felipe Calderon; Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez; the president of Paraguay, Fernado Lugo; El Salvador’s president, Tony Saca; and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos. Also on hand was Dominican-born baseball star Sammy Sosa, Panamanian musician Ruben Blades and English rocker Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame, along with Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman and Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank.
The event was sponsored by the Earth Institute at Columbia, led by economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Shakira and Sanz are members of Latin America in Solidarity Action (the Spanish acronym is ALAS, or “wings”), a nonprofit coalition founded by Latin American artists, intellectuals and business leaders to promote social communities and early childhood development programs in Latin America. Earlier this year, ALAS held all-star fundraising concerts in Mexico and Argentina that helped secure $200 million in donations.
“I belong to a generation that is learning new ways to get involved in these issues. We are not a passive generation, we’re very proactive,” Shakira said. “We want to see all those brutal contrasts in our world disappear, we want to see poverty eliminated because we believe it is possible.”
She also talked about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and urged Latino voters to use their voice and vote.
“I’d like to invite the Latino community to come out and make themselves present during this election because they can really make a difference,” she said. “I care deeply about this country and I think everyone does because America’s economy is so crucial for the rest of the world. The rest of the world’s economy depends on the economy of this country and world peace depends on the policies of this country.”
On the Net:
The Earth Institute: http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sections/view/9