I was browsing through SELF MAGAZINE online, as you probably already know it's my favorite! I like to stay up to date with everything via print and online to make sure I'm not missing out on anything. I came across their Women Doing Good tab and was intrigued. The first one I saw was "The Educator: Shakira". I never was really fan of her music (wait it gets better) but I loved watching her on The Voice last season. Her personality was so loving and uplifting to her team and loved having fun with the other judges. Once this season's teasers started I was a little sad to see that she wasn't returning. Nothing will pull me from TEAM BLAKE! Anyways I wanted to share this with you to encourage you to bring awareness to what you are passionate about.
When most adults think of Shakira, her beauty, hip shaking and voice instantly come to mind. But kids around the world know the singer for other reasons: her warmth, generosity and dedication to improving their lives. "Growing up in the developing world, I've seen so much injustice," says the Grammy winner, who was born in Colombia, where almost a third of the people live in poverty. "The one thing I can do is my part to help raise awareness." Through her Pies Descalzos Foundation (launched when she was just 18; it was named after her third album), Shakira is working to make education a right for all children, not just the lucky ones. Kids with no education "are a very vulnerable population," explains the pop star, the youngest of eight children (her half siblings). "They're running the risk of being recruited by the paramilitary, the guerrillas or the gangs." (In comparison, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, who is from a middle-class family, attended Catholic school and recorded her first album at 13.) To date, her foundation has built six schools in Colombia [above, she greets children at the future site of one], giving 6,000 children the opportunity to make it. A seventh school, which will serve 1,800 kids in Cartagena, is under construction, and she's expanded her work into Haiti. "When you start seeing the kids graduate and go to college," she says, "it's so fulfilling."
What inspired me: "When I was 8, my father [a jeweler], went bankrupt. As a result, we lost our air conditioner. It's crazy-hot in Barranquilla, my hometown—usually 95 degrees. When I complained, my parents took me to a local park where orphans were sniffing glue to quell their hunger. It made a lasting impression on me, and I promised myself that, once I achieved success, I would do something for those kids who apparently had no chance in life."
Why this issue: "We have a school in Barranquilla, in an area where there are around 9,000 children, and only 2,000 have access to it. The rest are doomed to fail. I always wonder how their destinies could change if they had a safe place to go where they could just be children."
What keeps me going: "I feel like I'm racing against the clock. There is so much to do, and time is merciless. So I focus on the solution rather than the problem. Investing in education is the most efficient tool to fight violence. Investing in our kids really is our only hope. They're our world's greatest resource. Not oil, not gas. It's the children of the world."
My legacy: "I think about what I want to teach my son. He was born with everything. I want him to see how others live, to be in touch with reality, to appreciate the value of what he has, and to be good, generous and compassionate."
In addition to the Pies Descalzos Foundation and its U.S. counterpart, The Barefoot Foundation, she created ALAS to advocate for early-childhood development. She serves on President Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
How You Can Help
Visit BarefootFoundation.com to donate.