Shakira visits cyclone battered Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Dec 19 (UNI) World famous pop star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira visited Bangladesh to see the post-cyclone SIDR reconstruction efforts and UNICEF education projects.

The two-time Grammy Award Winning internationally acclaimed singer and song-writer from Colombia, Shakira participated in the cyclone response efforts of UNICEF and its partners.

In the cyclone-ravaged area of Mirajgonj under southern Patuakhali district, she visited the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) developed for displaced and psychologically imperiled children and participated in the distribution of family kits and warm clothes among them.

''I m sorry for what happened to you,'' she said yesterday, as she hugged children and women during her visit to the Sidr-affected areas.

Listening intently to their stories, Shakira who came on a two-day visit said ''things will get better again. I admire your resilience and patience, and how much you still have to give when you have so little for yourselves.'' Eleven-year-old Neepa, who lost both parents to the cyclone, sang to Shakira and said she wanted to be a singer like her when she grows up. She told the pop star that the UNICEF school she visits is the one source of happiness and stability she has during this difficult time.

''I came to Bangladesh to see the impact of the cyclone and to learn about UNICEF's approach to education,'' said Shakira whose schedule was kept mostly secret to avoid the press crowd.

''We visited a variety of education programmes, and I came away with a clear sense that education is a powerful tool to improve people's lives. By making a small investment in these children we can give them the opportunity they deserve and can build a better, and safer world,'' she said.

Shakira also visited UNICEF-assisted Education and Child Protection projects which included pre and primary schools run by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and adolescent empowerment 'Kishori Abhijan' project.

Besides, the international music megastar also visited one learning centre under Basic Education for Hard-to-Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC) project and one girls' drop-in-centre for Protection of Children at Risk (PCAR) project and two villages in Rajshahi.

Joining as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2003 at the age of 26, Shakira was the youngest among a world-class roster of celebrities who embraced UNICEF through the years, dating back to Danny Kaye more than 50 years ago and continuing till today with more than 100 stars from the world of films, music, sports and literature.


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