One of the biggest names in Middle Eastern cinema today, Hend Sabry is touring the region this year to tell her fans about the long-term dangers of malnutrition. On her first outing as a WFP Ambassador against hunger, the Tunisian film star stressed the power of school meals to change lives and build futures.
DUBAI – In her first public address on behalf of the world's hungry, Hend Sabry held up a red cup, the symbol of WFP's school meals programme, and asked her audience to think about how filling it with a nutritious snack can change a child's life.
Speaking at the 7th Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition, the Tunisian-born actress explained that malnutrition not only weakens children and makes them vulnerable to disease, but robs them of their very futures.
“For many of the world's one billion hungry people, the problem is that they get too few of the minerals and vitamins that would allow them to thrive – physically and mentally,” she said. “The challenge is to ensure these people, especially children, have the right foods at the right time.”
“In most countries where WFP works, children under two and pregnant and nursing mothers receive food supplements to prevent stunting, or lower than average growth, that afflicts nearly 200 million children in the developing world and threatens many more,” Sabry said.
She added that treating hunger-related diseases is far more expensive than providing children with the food they need to grow up healthy.
WFP provides meals to around 22 million children in schools in some 70 countries, about half of them girls.
Sabry also reminded her audience that the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world were also the ones hit hardest by the financial crisis, a blow that fell as food prices were climbing, oil revenues were falling and the effects of climate change becoming increasingly severe.
“Those with money can afford to spend a little more on food, but those without money can only choose to buy food, get medicine or send their children to school,” Sabry said. “They can only choose between hunger, illness and illiteracy!”