BOGOTA –Known for her award-winning music, Shakira is a global superstar. While many wouldn’t be surprised to know that she has sold more than 60 million records worldwide, some may be surprised to hear that she is also a highly recognized philanthropist.
Arguably Shakira’s most impressive accomplishment is the organization she founded when she was only 18. The singer founded Pies Descalzos, or Barefoot, a group that supports children in vulnerability and displacement throughout Colombia. Pies Descalzos has been able to contribute to the improvement and construction of seven public schools throughout Colombia. This project has been able to positively affect more than 10,000 children and 67,000 youths and adults throughout places such as Barranquilla, Soacha, Cartagena and Quibdó.
In addition to the organization providing support for the physical schools themselves, it has created a “Comprehensive Intervention Model,” which provides education to students from all walks of life. Through the group, Shakira has continued to push the idea that education is not something that should be a privilege to those who can afford it, but a right for all children.
The creation of Pies Descalzos was only the start of Shakira’s philanthropic work. In 2006, she helped found América Latina en Acción Soldaria (ALAS), which focuses on early childhood and pregnancy in Panamá. She has donated 10,000 shoes to underprivileged children in Barranquilla, her home town, she has traveled to Bangladesh to learn about UNICEF-supported education initiatives, and much more.
One of Shakira’s most notable honors was the Crystal Award she received at the World Economic Forum this past January. During her acceptance speech she said, “We should be devastated that, in 2017, there are still 250 million kids under five who are still at risk, who will likely be stunted physically and intellectually.” Her dedication to advocating for the education of the impoverished youth around the world led her to be named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador as well as named a member of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2011.
While Shakira’s talent has gained her a large amount of following, her humanitarian efforts are something to be admired as well. Ever since she reached adulthood, she has been fighting for our world’s youth around the world, trying to make education accessible to as many children as she can.
– Olivia Hayes