World Cup 2014: Manuel Neuer and Jozy Altidore Give Back
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 Reina Villanueva
Monday, June 16: Ghana v. USA and Germany v. Portugal
What do Germany’s star goalkeeper and America’s favorite striker have in common? Manuel Neuer of Germany and Jozy Altidore of the United States may be fierce opponents in today’s World Cup match, but off the field the two players are united in the fight against poverty and hunger.
The German government has been tackling poverty through healthcare at home and abroad. With a focus on the prevention and reversal of the spread of HIV/AIDS, Germany has also committed to increasing gender equality in order to address many maternity and child health issues. Neuer, however, has taken a different approach to tackling poverty by addressing issues of hunger.
It is estimated that 15.5 percent of Germans lived below the poverty line in 2010. Although that rate is decreasing, Neuer became aware that the number of impoverished children in his hometown was steadily increasing. In response, he started a foundation with the purpose of supporting children living in poverty in Germany.
“My hometown, Gelsenkirchen, is a leader in an inglorious statistic. Nearly one in three children suffers from poverty. This means that these children often do not have a hot meal every day, that there is a lack of clothing, and that textbooks cannot be bought,” Neuer explains on his foundation’s Facebook page. “I know that I am one of the privileged and have happiness in my life, but I would like to give something back.”
While Neuer is focused on fighting poverty at home, Altidore is determined to end poverty abroad. Following the 2010 earthquake in his family’s native country of Haiti, Altidore encouraged fans to support relief efforts. In addition, he founded a non-profit organization to combat poverty in America and across the globe.
“I may be a young person, but I believe it’s never too early to want to make a difference,” Altidore said in an interview. “I really wanted to give something back, not only to my community in Florida, but around the country and the world.”
Coinciding with Altidore’s efforts, the U.S. government has also decided to double foreign aid by 2015. In 2010, President Obama announced a new U.S. Global Development Policy, defining the purpose of development as “creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed.” The president emphasized that in order to truly assist countries in moving from poverty to prosperity, America must pursue concentrated long-term efforts by changing trade policies in addition to monetary aid.
In the World Cup, fans may be rooting for different teams to score a goal. However, an end to hunger and poverty in the world is a goal that should unite all fans and players.
Reina Villanueva is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department, and a senior at American University in Washington, D.C.
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