Ambassadors Against Hunger
More than a decade after shooting to international stardom, Malian singers Amadou Bagayako and Mariam Doumbia -- better known as Amadou & Mariam -- remain among Africa's most stirring and popular musicians.
The blind couple first met at Bamako's Institute for the Young Blind in 1976 and quickly found they shared a passion for music. By 1985, Amadou & Mariam had made a name for themselves locally, playing blues with heavy Malian influences.
After moving to Paris, the pair recorded the album Sou Ni Tile in 1998, which became an instant hit in France and marked the launch of their international musical career. A bigger break came in 2004, when world music star Manu Chao produced their album Dimanche a Bamako, which captured that year's BBC Best World Music Album Award.
Since then, Amadou & Mariam have collaborated with German star Herbert Gronemeyer, the Scissor Sisters, Coldplay and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. Their most recent album, Welcome to Mali (2008), includes hit song "Sabali," ranked 15 on Pitchfork's Top 100 Best Tracks of 2008.
Recent notable performances include singing the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for United States President Barack Obama and at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in South Africa last year.
Their Malian background gives Amadou & Mariam a special insight into the hunger and food insecurity plaguing the world's poorest people. Indeed, the Paris-based couple is committed to using their music and high profile to spotlight efforts to help the needy by the World Food Programme and other institutions, notably the European Union.And since their music appeals to fans in both rich and poor nations, it provides a powerful vehicle to raise awareness.
The couple began their celebrity partnership with WFP in May 2006, supporting the Walk the World event. They also developed a WFP school feeding partnership in two specialized institutes for blind or visually impaired children in Bamako and Gao, Mali.
Amadou & Mariam have also given a number of benefit concerts, including in Paris (2007) for the INGO-WFP-FAO coalition “Together Against Hunger” and at the 2008 Paris-Bamako music festival on behalf of WFP.
As WFP Ambassadors Against Hunger for the European Union, Amadou & Mariam want to spread the word to Europeans about how hunger affects millions across the world and about WFP and EU efforts to help eradicate it. In 2011 they travelled to Haiti to visit WFP programmes there and wrote a song about their mission as ambassadors, Labendela. They made the video you can see at the top right of this page.
Anoushka Shankar was just eight years old when she started to master the sitar. The hypnotic sounds of this complicated instrument were in her blood through her father – and teacher – Ravi Shankar, the world-famous Indian musician.
Although only in her mid-twenties, Shankar has already enjoyed notable success across the world in the years since her recording debut at the age of 13. In 2000, Anoushka was the youngest person ever nominated for a Grammy in the World Music category for “Live at Carnegie Hall.”
She also received a nomination for the 2005 album "Rise." Her talent shines beyond the recording studio and she has released a book about her father “Bapi: The Love of My Life."
She also earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the India National Film Awards in 2004 for her debut role in Dance Like a Man. Shankar is now extending her energy beyond the entertainment industry, and she is offering her support to the world’s hungry through WFP.
She says, "Feeding the world's poor and hungry children directly affects their ability to learn and to grow, and educated, healthy children become adults who can positively impact their society. Hunger is therefore not a remote problem, but an urgent one that affects the world as a whole."
"Hunger is therefore not a remote problem, but an urgent one that affects the world as a whole." -Anoushka Shankar
Lebanese singer and "Arab knight," Assi Hillani, studied music for five years, specialising in playing the Oud, or oriental guitar. His career as a popular singer took off in 1989 when he won a televised singing competition. Since then, he has released 13 albums and become firmly established as a major star in the Middle East. Despite his soaring popularity, Hillani has remained consistently involved in humanitarian issues.
The “Arab knight” regularly performs at fund-raising concerts throughout the Middle East in support of a range of charities in the region, including the Women’s Development Association Hayati. In August 2005, Hillani added his voice to the growing roster of celebrities helping WFP raise awareness about global hunger and poverty, recording a Public Service Announcement.
One year later, Hillani used his song "Baadak Saket", or "You're Still Quiet" to highlight child hunger. The haunting lyrics tell the story of a child who cannot feed her doll because there is no food in the house. Hunger is portrayed as a "strangling monster."
"I am ready to donate my voice and popularity to the cause of fighting hunger and poverty," Assi Hillani declared.
Ambassador Against Hunger
Cape Verdian singer Cesária Évora, who died on 17 Dec 2011, was one of the greatest living African vocalists. Often called the "Barefoot Diva," she made her first record in Paris in 1988 at the age of 47.
Her smooth, soulful voice rapidly won her fans all around the world, and after five nominations she won a Grammy award in 2004 for her album “Voz D’Amor.”
Évora had long campaigned on behalf of underprivileged women and children in her home country, and was known as the “Barefoot Diva” because of her preference for appearing on stage barefoot to show support for the poor of Cape Verde.
As a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, Évora dedicated one of the songs on her album “Mar de Canal” to the organization and its work. In December 2003, she gave a concert in Rome to support WFP's School Feeding programme, which at the time provided free school meals for over 100,000 children in Cape Verde.
After more than 30 years of collaboration with WFP, the government of Cape Verde took full ownership of its national school meals programme in 2010, setting an example for many other developing countries to follow.
Ambassador Against Hunger
One of the most successful recording artists of the decade, Christina Aguilera burst onto the scene in 1999 when she was just 19 years old. Her self-titled debut album soared to the top of the charts with dance hits like Genie in a Bottle that made her an overnight celebrity and won her the first of four Grammy Awards.
Later albums kept her in the limelight, from the Spanish-language tribute Mi Riflejo (2000) to the 2002 release Stripped, a commercial success that also garnered wide critical acclaim. Its top single Beautiful, a lilting ballad about prejudice and exclusion, showed a new level of depth that resonated with audiences and scored Christina her third Grammy in 2004.
Her next studio album Back to Basics delved into the jazz and swing roots of pop R&B, that won her another Grammy in 2007 with the big-band throwback Ain’t No Other Man.
Christina’s enduring success has kept her in the public eye and she’s used the attention to spread awareness about the plight of the world’s hungry. In 2009, she became the official spokesperson for World Hunger Relief, a campaign sponsored by Yum! Brands, which has generated over $148 million in funding for WFP and other hunger relief agencies.
Christina made her debut performance on behalf of the world’s hungry in a moving public service announcement that shows her singing to onlookers on a busy street corner to raise money for food aid.
Her first mission on behalf of the world’s hungry took her to one of the poorest regions of Guatemala in August 2009 where she met with mothers who depend on aid to feed their children. “I want to raise awareness and open people’s eyes,” said Christina during her trip.
In May 2010, Christina returned to the field with a visit to the quake-battered island of Haiti to meet children at two different schools where WFP has set up school feeding programmes. These are some of the pictures from her trip.
All photos by Rein Skullerud
NBA basketball star Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1966, and arrived in the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship.
A four-time winner of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, he starred for the Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets before joining the Houston Rockets in late 2004. In 1997, Mutombo set up the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to combat childhood diseases in his native Democratic Republic of Congo and build the country’s first new, fully-equipped hospital in nearly 30 years.
A winner of numerous awards for his humanitarian work, he spends the off-season traveling throughout Africa, performing at free basketball clinics for as many as 2,000 children a day. Now Mutombo, who is fluent in nine languages, five of them African, is using his voice to speak out about the 800 million people living on the edge of starvation. He has recorded Public Service Announcements for WFP in English and French calling for support for the agency in its battle to prevent 24,000 people dying of hunger every day.
"Food – there’s no greater gift, and no better way to give it."- Dikembe Mutombo
Ambassador Against Hunger
Rene Baumann started out as a DJ in 1985, quickly establishing his reputation as DJ BoBo in his home country Switzerland, as well as in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. In the early 1990s DJ BoBo had his international breakthrough with the smash hit “Dance With Me”. In 2003 his global hit, 'Chihuahua' was a worldwide chartbuster and even reached gold, platinum and diamond status.
He manages to masterfully interweave rap music with dance and visual effects to create breath-taking shows, wowing audiences and filling stadiums across Europe. DJ Bobo’s participation in the 2006 Geneva Walk the World marked the beginning of ties with WFP.
In 2007, DJ BoBo for the first time visited projects of WFP in Ethiopia, one of the most food insecure countries worldwide. This journey gave him a better idea of how WFP supports Ethiopian school children, farmers and people affected by HIV/AIDS with food assistance.
In autumn 2009, he started a second journey. This time, he visited projects in Ethiopia and Kenya for which he had collected more than 200,000 Euros since his last visit in 2007. “I would never have dreamed that the projects have made such progress,” DJ BoBo wrote in his Blog. To see the video of his travel, click here.
During his successful concert tours in 2008 and 2010, DJ BoBo and WFP invited school classes to play FreeRice and thereby contribute to the fight against hunger. The classes with the highest score won tickets for a DJ BoBo concert. DJ BoBo supported the Free Rice school competition from conviction: “FreeRice is an excellent tool. It teaches children knowledge and gives them the chance to do something for the world’s poorest.”
DJ BoBo is proud to support WFP and make a change: His status as an international musician helps to raise awareness for WFP’s fight against hunger. "Travelling around the world has made me sensitive to people in need. It is a privilege to be able to help," he said.
DJ BoBo became a WFP National Ambassador against Hunger in October 2006.
US National Ambassador Against Hunger
One of the biggest talents in American football today, quarterback Drew Brees has been a household name in his native Texas since he was a teenager leading his High School team to the 1996 state championship in widely televised 55-15 route.
Among the top recruited players in the nation, Brees graduated from Indiana’s Purdue University where he led the team to a Big Ten conference championship and set a conference record for passing yards.
After college, Brees was drafted into the National Football League by the San Diego Chargers where he played for three seasons, clinching the AFC West Division Title in 2004.
In 2006, he moved to New Orleans as the centerpiece of a rebuilding Saints team. After three solid seasons, Brees led the Saints to their first ever NFL Championship in 2009 with a thrilling win at Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts.
The winner of several prestigious athletic awards, Brees has also shown a deep commitment to the causes important to him. In 2003, he and his wife Brittany established the Brees Dream Foundation to advance cancer research and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need.
His concern for the world’s disadvantaged led Brees to join the fight against hunger in 2011 by teaming up with WFP as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the US.
“In the 21st century, we shouldn’t be talking about famine. There are agencies like WFP committed not only to responding to emergencies, but to putting in place longer-term solutions to hunger,” he said.
In his new role, Brees will funnel the same dedication and passion that make him an all-star on the field into raising awareness about the plight of the world’s hungry.
Born in Ghana in 1989, Freddy Adu hit the headlines at the tender age of 10, when Italian soccer giants Inter Milan spotted his talent and made a six-figure offer for him that was turned down by his mother.
He went on to make his professional debut in US Major League Soccer at just 14, and now plays for the United States Under-20 national side. Freddy Adu Adu grew up in the port city of Tema in Ghana, where he played football barefoot against men three times his age. When he was eight, his mother won an immigration lottery, and he and his family moved to Washington D.C. Adu became a U.S. citizen in 2003, when he was already the most talked-about player in American soccer history.
At 16, Adu is using his considerable fame to draw attention to the plight of children who haven’t managed to escape poverty the way he has, recording a Public Service Announcement for WFP in which he calls for support for the fight to end hunger, which kills a child every five seconds.
Ambassador Against Hunger
After starring in more than 23 films and a number of popular television series, Hend Sabry is considered one of the most prominent actresses in the Arab world. She has won more than 20 international awards.
The Tunisian Actress, who has been the face of cosmetics giant Garnier in the Middle East since 2009, started her career with the film “Les Silences Du Palais” in 1994. She acted in many Tunisian popular movies before moving to Egypt where she consolidated her successful career.
Hend Sabry, who studied law and is in fact a syndicated lawyer, is also active in social and humanitarian work. She is a keen supporter of WFP’s fight against hunger in developing countries, especially in the Middle East region.
She has worked closely with the World Food Programme since 2009 and in that year she travelled to Syria and the occupied Palestinian territories. She visited people receiving food assistance from WFP to see the impact of the agency’s work on their lives.
In 2010 she was officially appointed a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger. Since then she has visited several projects worldwide, including School Feeding Programmes in Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territories.
In September 2012, as fighting continued inside Syria, Hend Sabry travelled to Jordan near the Syrian border to spend time with Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp.
She is proud of her involvement with WFP. “I am honoured to lend my voice to improve the lives of others. Celebrities can do a lot to raise awareness about human suffering around the world,” she says.