Polish Olympic gold medallist roots for UN school feeding programmes in Africa

21 April 2006

Acting as an ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Poland’s quadruple Olympic gold medallist race-walker Robert Korzeniowski has called on his fellow sportsmen to use their international profiles to put the plight of Africa’s hungry children on the international agenda.

Acting as an ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Poland’s quadruple Olympic gold medallist race-walker Robert Korzeniowski has called on his fellow sportsmen to use their international profiles to put the plight of Africa’s hungry children on the international agenda.

“Many of our African friends suffer from malnutrition, and they need celebrities like us to use our high profiles to act as partners for worthwhile projects,” Mr. Korzeniowski said in Bamako, capital of Mali, at the end of a four-day visit to the drought-hit Mopti area, where he saw WFP’s school feeding programme.

“Let us awaken our consciences and those of all those around us, our family, friends, fans and countrymen,” he added. “Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to a proper education and to enjoy the benefits of sport, personal fulfilment and an opening onto the world at large.”

The race walker, who holds the world record in the 50-kilometre race, recently joined WFP’s growing list of celebrity partners.

WFP’s free lunches serve as an incentive for local parents to keep their children in class. In several cases, the children’s parents use WFP rations to cook the school lunches themselves in the canteen.

Mr. Korzeniowski learnt firsthand that basic education offers Mopti’s children their only hope of escaping a vicious cycle of drought and soil erosion that barely allows families to subsist off small communal plots of land.

“I have been amply rewarded for what I have put into the project by the approving looks in the eyes of the proud parents as I met their smiling children in their school playgrounds,” he said. “For them, going to school means a square meal, and therefore life.”

 

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