UN World Food Programme

Dedicated Aid Worker Carries Olympic Torch For WFP

Vadsana Sinthavong spends most of her time helping establish school meals programmes for WFP in her native Laos.

(Copyright: WFP/Caroline Hurford)

Laotian national Vadsana Sinthavong represented WFP at the Olympic Torch Relay in the UK on Sunday, carrying the Flame through the streets of Birmingham as it made its way to London to start the 2012 Olympic Games. Sinthavong was chosen to represent WFP from a large pool of candidates by WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

BIRMINGHAM — WFP staffer Vadsana Sinthavong was all smiles on Sunday as she carried the Olympic Flame through the streets of Birmingham on behalf of the world’s frontline agency against hunger.

“What an amazing experience. I’m so proud to be here,” said the Laotian national, after running her leg of the Olympic Torch Relay through central Birmingham. 

“It’s such an honour for my family and my country--and to represent WFP and its work around the world,” she added.

Vadsana was selected by WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin from a large pool of nominations received from over 70 countries where WFP works.

Dedicated aid worker

Sinthavong, 33, works for WFP’s school meals programme in her home country of Lao PDR, helping to ensure that over 152,000 children around the country receive nutritious meals in school.

The seventh of nine children, Sinthavong knows first-hand the role education and nutrition play in allowing children to reach their potential. “My own childhood wasn’t easy, but I was given a chance—which is why I want to help children in my country,” Sinthavong said.

“Vadsana is one of our most dedicated staff members here in Lao PDR,” said Eri Kudo, WFP’s Country Director in Lao PDR.

“Her enthusiasm and dedication to her work has been crucial in helping school children get a daily nutritious snack, and focus on their education instead of being distracted by an empty stomach.”

Before returning to Laos PDR, Sinthavong will visit a local primary school in Birmingham to share her experience as an Olympic torchbearer and her commitment to help children break out of poverty.

Peace, unity, friendship

The invitation to carry the torch for a leg of the relay was extended to WFP by International Olympic Committee. Lit in Greece, the Olympic Flame arrived in the UK on May 18 before setting out the next day on a 70-day relay. The Flame will be carried by 8,000 Torchbearers through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the UK.

As the world’s largest humanitarian organisation fighting hunger, WFP is honoured to be part of this journey, spreading the message of peace, unity and friendship.