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Dedicated Aid Worker From Laos To Raise Olympic Torch In Birmingham

LONDON – Vadsana Sinthavong, who helps provide school children in her native Laos with nutritious food, has been chosen to represent the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in the Olympic Torch Relay in Birmingham on Sunday 1 July.

The seventh of nine children, Vadsana’s older sisters sacrificed their education and worked to send her to university where she studied English and worked for local charities before joining WFP in 2005.  Now 33, Vadsana helps to ensure that 152,000 pre-primary and primary school children in the poorest districts of Laos receive highly nutritious food - which encourages them to attend school and improves their concentration in class.

“My own childhood wasn’t easy, but I was given a chance - which is why I want to help children in my country,” Vadsana said.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin picked Vadsana’s name out of a hat, full of nominations received from many of the 70 countries where WFP works. The invitation to WFP to carry the relay torch came from the International Olympic Committee.
“I was thrilled, just so happy,” Vadsana said when she heard about her selection. “It is a great honour for my family and for my country - and to represent WFP and its great work in an international arena.”
Vadsana will travel to Birmingham to run her stretch of the torch relay on Sunday 1 July. She will also visit Yorkswood Primary school in Birmingham to share her experience as an Olympic Torchbearer and her commitment to help children break out of poverty.
“Vadsana is one of our most devoted staff members,” said Eri Kudo, WFP Country Director in Laos. “Her enthusiasm and dedication has been crucial in helping school children get a daily nutritious snack, and focus on their education instead of being distracted by an empty stomach.”
In Laos, WFP focuses on alleviating chronic malnutrition, which affects half of all children in rural areas and prevents them from developing their full potential. To help Laos free itself from undernutrition and strengthen national development, WFP works with partners in areas such as health, education and agriculture.
For more information please contact (email address:

Caroline Hurford, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474