Shakira named humanitarian of the year by US magazine

November 8th, 2008 - 10:08 am ICT by IANS  

ShakiraNew York, Nov 8 (IANS) Latin pop star Shakira has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the People en Español magazine for her work towards providing better health and education to needy children in South America.The US magazine’s next edition, which lists the year’s most famous celebrities who have achieved star of the year status, selected the Colombian singer-songwriter for the title because of her charity work with impoverished children through her foundation Pies Descalzos and Latin America in Solidarity (ALAS), EFE news agency reported Saturday.

The new edition of the magazine will hit newsstands Monday.

The “Hips don’t lie” singer, whose hip-swivelling dances and catchy ballads have earned her a huge global following and a string of Grammy awards, told the magazine that she learned to have compassion for the needy when she was seven years old and her parents’ jewellery store went bankrupt.

Shakira was sent together with her mother and some friends to California, while her father sold off everything, including the bed the future music icon had slept in.

When she returned home, she had to sleep on a mattress on the floor. So she would understand that some kids were living in even worse conditions, her parents took her to a park in Barranquilla where homeless children sniffed glue to forget their hunger, the magazine said.

“We had a comfortable life and then one day I was shown something else. From that day on, I became obsessed to vindicate my family, my family’s economic situation, and to one day help those kids that I saw on the streets,” said the singer, who has sold 60 million albums worldwide.

“From that moment on, I was obsessed with achieving success to get my family back on its feet, to restore my family’s economic position, but I was also obsessed with someday doing something for kids like the ones who made such a huge impact on my young mind,” the singer told People en Español.

She was still in her teens when she took her first step in that direction, using some of the profits from her hit albun “Pies Descalzos” (Barefoot) to establish the foundation of the same name, which is currently building schools in Colombia for thousands of displaced children.

In 2006 she created, together with Spanish singers Alejandro Sanz and Miguel Bose, the Latin American Solidarity Action Foundation or ALAS (Wings), which enjoys the support of other showbiz colleagues, intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

The singer-songwriter also told the magazine about her nine-year relationship with Antonio de la Rua, son of former Argentine president Fernando de la Rua.

“I live very happily as a couple with Antonio and I think it’s quite romantic to freely choose the person to be with every day. To be the eternal girlfriend is something I find very romantic. For now that’s how I see my relationship, the way I’d like to stay and the way he would too,” she said.

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