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August 21, 2005

Ronaldinho Helps to Fight Against Child Hunger

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World's most talented soccer player Ronaldinho is to use his global celebrity to help the United Nations World Food Programme in its fight against child hunger. The brazilian player who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and who last season inspired his team Barcelona to the Spanish title, will draw attention to the plight of the 300 million hungry children around the world in his capacity as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger.

“I've seen hunger because I grew up with children from very poor families” Ronaldinho said at a press conference at the Arts Hotel in the Olympic Port of Barcelona. “I was lucky - soccer rescued my family from poverty. Now I want to help WFP rescue other kids who aren't so fortunate.”

Ronaldinho, a hero of Brazil's “favelas”, or shanty towns, whose father died when he was just eight, grew up in an impoverished quarter of Porto Alegre, in the south of the country. The family's fortunes were transformed when Ronaldinho's older brother Roberto was signed by local soccer club Gremio.

One in four of the world's children are underweight. Hunger and related diseases claim the life of a child every five seconds - over six million a year. And whenever there is a food crisis, such as the one in Niger, it is children who are most vulnerable.

“The situation in Niger, where food shortages were allowed to escalate as appeals for help went unheeded, is an example of how difficult it can be to draw attention to people's suffering,” said John Powell, Deputy Executive Director of WFP's Fundraising and Communications Department, who officially appointed Ronaldinho as an Ambassador Against Hunger.

“We hope Ronaldinho, whose passion and flair have made him such a huge star and won him hearts around the globe, will help us raise awareness of child hunger - no more so than in his home continent of Latin America, where one child in six under the age of five suffers from chronic malnutrition and stunting.”


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