MONACO- The Principality of Monaco is known the world over for the Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis Tournament and the Riviera. Here at WFP, however, it has gradually come to be known as the one of the biggest ‘classrooms’ speaking about and participating in the fight against hunger. Under the impetus of the Monegasque National Directorate for Education, Youth and Sports Affairs, the Principality’s 6,000-strong student population, almost equivalent to the undergraduate population at Harvard, has made hunger its leading humanitarian cause.
1 million grains of rice
Since September 2011, Freerice, WFP’s online vocabulary and trivia game, has become akin to a “national sport” in Monaco with middle and high-school students actively raising rice for WFP. In less than 6 months, the group ‘Monaco Freericers’ bringing together students, teachers and classes alike raised over a million grains of rice to feed the world’s hungry.
“Freerice offers the perfect blend of humanitarian and educational. The Directorate for Education is pleased to engage our students in the fight against hunger, a pressing issue of our time and a priority for the Monegasque government,” explains Ms. Muriel Bubbio. “We strongly believe that learning about other countries and continents such as Africa and Asia requires understanding on global issues such as hunger and how one can contribute to addressing these challenges at an individual, local and national level,” she adds.
Children for children, together for a cause
And contribute they do! Every year, the Monegasque student community comes together to raise funds and awareness for vulnerable children around the world through a special Children’s Day event. In November 2011, their perseverance and creativity helped them raise EUR 8000 through bake/trinket sales and charity raffles for WFP and thousands of children affected by the Horn of Africa crisis in Kenya. Present at the event to receive the check on WFP’s behalf, Ms.Marina Catena, WFP Director for France and the Principality of Monaco, commended the students’ efforts to help other children their age around the world. “The fight against hunger needs new, dynamic forces and the commitment of the Monegasque children to accompany the efforts of the government is symbolic of the hope and energy the young generation infuses in our struggle against this scourge,” she said. “Their awareness and willingness to engage is remarkable and reflects the potential of the youth to turn things around.”
Fighting hunger with passion and dedication
With an area of less than 2km² and residents of over 100 nationalities, Monaco offers a unique microcosm of our world. The Directorate of Education places a major emphasis on international understanding and collaborates regularly with the WFP office in Paris to highlight hunger and WFP’s action. At the recent WFP pro-bono photo exhibition inaugurated by H.S.H Prince Albert II and H.R.H Princess Caroline at the prestigious “Galérie des Pêcheurs” in Monaco, visitors were surprised to see classes animatedly discussing the photos, geographical context, WFP’s response and impact.
“I would never have expected to see dozens of 12-16 year olds talking passionately about hunger and WFP while visiting the exhibition. Their enthusiasm was catching and I left the exhibition wanting to match their conviction on how we can fight hunger together with WFP,” said Mr.Christian Giordan of Club Images Monaco. Every day, the youth of Monaco are leading the way in ending hunger- 1 lesson, 1 euro and 10 grains at a time.