World Cup 2014: 'The charity work I do is a priority'
Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.
By Bianca Brown
June 17: Belgium v. Algeria; Brazil v. Mexico
The dedicated athletes who are representing their countries in the World Cup are supported by fans who consider soccer one of the world’s greatest pastimes. Today, Belgium plays Algeria, followed by Brazil v. Mexico. These matches are expected to be "a clash of titans" of the game, as superstars such as Vincent Company (Belgium) and Javier Chicharito Hernandez (Mexico) take to the field.
Off the field however, these talented athletes put their all into charitable organizations whose efforts support the end of poverty and hunger.
In Belgium, recent data shows the number of citizens affected by poverty at 15.2 percent, and steadily increasing. Government officials have created poverty-reduction goals in order to stanch the problem. Several of these goals are meant to reduce the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day; many are currently living in slums without access to safe drinking water. These propositions also emphasize the importance of halving the number of people who suffer from hunger. By promoting education and sustainable development, it is believed that Belgium can successfully eliminate poverty and hunger.
Mexico, while a much larger country, has few resources it can access to improve the lives of those who are suffering from poverty and hunger. With their country's poverty rate estimated at 52.3 percent, the poorest members of the population live on less than $1.25 per day, and, as a result, are undernourished due to a lack of access to food and drinking water. Mexico has made a tremendous effort to fulfill the country’s MDGs and reduce the level of poverty among its citizens. With assistance from external support programs and the generosity of its athletes, Mexico has the potential to achieve its poverty-reduction goals.
Company and Hernandez have been invited to be national ambassadors for UNICEF, advocates for anti-poverty and anti-hunger efforts. Both athletes have supported charitable organizations as a way to give back to their communities, and to give children opportunities to succeed. Speaking about his work with UNICEF, Hernandez has said, “… immediately I thought: if it’s about doing something for the kids of my country, I am in.” Company says, “The charity work I do is…a priority in my life" as much as "being a good footballer....I'll keep trying to be a good footballer so it makes the impact I have when I go out there all the better."
Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.
Photo: Javier Chicharito Hernandez who plays for Mexico, is a UNICEF ambassador. (Jon Candy, Wikimedia Commons)
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