Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira made history when she created and performed her song “Waka Waka” as the official anthem for the FIFA World Cup in 2010.  Having written, composed and produced over 145 songs, Shakira has sold over 75 million records which have made her one of the world’s best-selling music artists.

Everyone knows the gorgeous 44-year-old for her long blonde locks and saucy numbers such as “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Beautiful Liar”, but what most people don’t know is how Shakira has always strived to give back to her community back home.

Launching a charity when she was 18

She was signed by Sony Records when she was only 13- a story we all revere. However, the story that deserves to be told is how at only 18-years-old, Shakira launched the Fundacion Pies Descalzos, or the Barefoot Foundation. The organization currently fulfils the nutritional and educational needs of over 6,000 impoverished children in Colombia. In 2006, Shakira founded ALAS (Fundacion América Latina en Acción Solidaria), which is a Foundation based in Panama that focuses on the health of infants and young children as well as expectant and new mothers.

The singer was named as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in October of 2011. Once Shakira donated 10,000 pairs of tennis shoes to children in need, in her home town of Barranquilla.

The singer has been a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF since 2003.  In December of 2007, when she travelled to Bangladesh to visit UNICEF projects, she met women and children who were affected by the devastating Cyclone Sidr. The five-time Grammy winner told the survivors there, “I am sorry for what happened to you, but things are going to get better again. I admire your resilience and your patience and how much you can still give when you have so little for yourselves.”

How does the Barefoot Foundation work?

Shakira, who was born in 1977 in Baranquilla, Colombia, started the Fundacion Pies Descalzos in 1997. “Throughout my life, I have seen how education works miracles. I have seen lives and even whole communities transformed. And believe me, to see a child who did not have opportunities to succeed manage to get ahead and obtain equal opportunities in adulthood, is such a satisfying feeling that surpasses even that of earning a Grammy,” she was quoted as saying.

The foundation seeks to provide quality education to children in Colombia by helping to improve teaching techniques in schools and bring in more innovation in learning. The vision of the foundation is to, “Get the next generation of Colombians to see through education, a vehicle of change to dream, build, and fulfil their life plan.” The organization has five schools across Colombia and is looking to expand into Haiti and South Africa, to keep supporting children in need.

In April 2014, the singer was given the Hero Award at the Radio Disney Music Awards for the wonderful work her organization does. Indeed, for the thousands of children she continues to benefit, she will remain a Hero always.

If you wish to volunteer

Those wanting to help may volunteer at one of the Fundacion Pies Descalzos chapters in Baranquilla, Cartagena, or Quibdó. The volunteering programs usually last for a period of two months and the volunteers must be of age and speak a medium level of Spanish.

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