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World Cup 2014: The Netherlands and Cameroon Fight Poverty

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Samuel Eto’o, the captain of the Cameroon team, uses his platform to draw attention to the widespread poverty that continues to affect many in his homeland. (Wikimedia Commons)

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

Friday, June 13: Mexico v. Cameroon; Spain v. Netherlands

The group stage matches continue today with Mexico v. Cameroon, followed by Spain v. Netherlands. The outcomes of these matches are difficult to predict; both promise to be exciting games between the best talents that each country has to offer. But many of the players are  motivated not only by the potential to make their countries proud on the field, but also to have an impact on hunger and poverty in their communities.

Samuel Eto’o, the captain of the Cameroon team, poses a threat to Mexico, as he’s a star player. Eto’o has used his platform to draw attention to the widespread poverty that continues to affect many in his homeland.

The nation is making progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and has introduced several programs to reduce poverty on a large scale.

Still, Eto’o is determined to make a difference, and speed up the progress being made. "Money is not the most important to me," he says. "The money I have earned has given me the opportunity to give back to the people who do not have the same opportunities as me." A good portion of Eto’o’s money has gone to his foundation, which supports  development work in Africa.

 The Netherlands—its team plays Spain today— is contributing 4.6 billion euros (as of 2011) toward the development of partner countries, and more than half of the funds the country spends on development cooperation goes to Africa. 

While the Netherlands is generous, and administers a lot of programs focused on relieving international poverty, the county has seen an increase in its own poverty rate. In 2012, the Netherlands experienced a 7.6 percent increase in the number of people living in poverty. Although this rate is not expected to continue to climb, the country's International Affairs Ministry is working to address the jump. The agency's director, Lauris Beets, has said that, “The Netherlands is dedicated to the eradication of poverty through our development policy.” This development is focused on social security systems and employment policy—one country program aims to pair unemployed people with local farmers, and have them sell fresh produce at low prices to people struggling to keep up with high living costs in the country.

"Let us join forces to eradicate poverty," director Beets said during the same statement. "It’s not  easy, but....it can be done."

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College. 


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