Following his recent visit to WFP school feeding projects in Mali, Poland's quadruple gold medallist Robert Korzeniowski makes an impassioned plea to his fellow sportsmen to use their international profiles to keep Africa's hungry children on the international agenda
Poland's quadruple gold medallist Robert Korzeniowski has appealed to his fellow sportsmen to use their international profiles to put the plight of Africa's hungry children on the international agenda.
The record breaking race walker, a recent addition to WFP's growing list of celebrity partners, made his impassioned plea shortly after returning from a visit to WFP's school feeding programme in Mali, West Africa.
"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," said Korzeniowski
"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. Let us awaken our consciences and those of all those around us, our family, friends, fans and countrymen."
Were you aware that for only 35 Euros a year a child will be guaranteed an education and live a dignified life, free from hunger?Robert Korzeniowski
During his four day visit to the drought-hit Mopti area of Mali, on the border with Burkina Faso, Korzeniowski visited several schools where free lunches provided by WFP 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.
During his visit, 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.
Each year, parents are forced to build small dams to retain some of the precious groundwater that falls in the rainy season.
Korzeniowski said: "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. For them, going to school means a square meal, and therefore life.”