BANDA ACEH Two of the National Football League's (NFL) top players, New York Giants' quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Amani Toomer, have arrived in Indonesia to assist the victims of the tsunami and support the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in its efforts to deliver food to survivors.
The purpose of their visit is to raise awareness about the critical work WFP is doing in Asia, where the food aid agency is assisting more than a million tsunami survivors. Last month, WFP provided over 7,000 metric tons of food commodities to assist over 400,000 people in Indonesia alone. In February, more than 500,000 people will be assisted with rice, fortified noodles, biscuits, canned fish and vegetable oil.
Both Warner and Toomer and their wives, Brenda and Yola respectively, had canceled their previous holiday plans to devote themselves to a humanitarian cause. The two couples arrived in Indonesia on February 11 and departed today for the city of Banda Aceh, which was devastated by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami.
While living with other UN humanitarian workers in the tented UN compound in Banda Aceh, they will work on the frontlines of WFP's emergency operation, which will include loading a helicopter with food and participating in food distributions to displaced families in Banda Aceh and in the devastated coastal town of Lamno.
In addition, they will help clean the rubble in a secondary school in Banda Aceh, as well as meet with the provincial soccer team, which lost a number of its key players in the disaster.
"In many of our operations, WFP works with respected public figures to help tell the story of WFP's work. It is particularly important for the victims of the tsunami and their tragedy, which is receiving worldwide attention," said Mohamed Saleheen, WFP's country director in Indonesia.
Their itinerary will also include a courtesy visit to the USS Mercy, a US Navy hospital ship which is operating offshore along Indonesia's west coast. The US military, along with militaries from around the world, played a vital role in delivering significant amounts of food in the first phase of the emergency operation.
When the visit ends on February 16, the Toomers will continue on to Sri Lanka to help in reconstruction activities. They will be joined there by Kansas City chiefs full back Tony Richardson. Currently, WFP is helping to feed more than 850,000 people in Sri Lanka, with a large logistics network spread throughout the country.
"The fact that the NFL players are involved demonstrates their commitment and sympathy to the victims of this huge natural disaster. On behalf of the people we serve, we are very grateful to host them as part of the WFP team. Teamwork is the key to our success," added Saleheen.
NFL players have been active with the WFP throughout the tsunami crisis. The Indianapolis Colts donated $50,000 and a further $60,000 was raised by fans at a match between the Colts and the Denver Broncos on January 9. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb volunteered their time to record a Public Service Announcement for WFP, which aired during NFL playoff games in January. The PSA was shown during five playoff games, with the airtime, valued at millions of dollars, donated by the NFL.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: we give food aid to an average of 90 million people in more than 80 countries each year, including 56 million hungry children.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.
Visit our website: www.wfp.org.
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