Shakira wants to use her voice to help others

Last Updated: May 01, 2011, 17:57 PM IST

Dubai: Colombian pop superstar Shakira has got the world gyrating to her songs, but she has a lot more on her mind than which way to wiggle- she wants to use her voice to help others.

"I think that with fame comes an obligation and a greater sense of duty," the Gulf News quoted the singer who performed at the Yas Arena on Friday as saying.

"I have always felt that the best thing I can do with my voice is use it to help others who don`t have one, and to draw focus to more important issues like the right to a quality education," she said.

The fourth richest woman in pop, after Madonna, Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion, Shakira, born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, is intent on making her advocacy work as well known as her hips.

She has helped in educating impoverished children by building schools and community centers in some of the poorest neighborhoods in her native Colombia, and convinced other Latin American leaders to invest in early childhood education.

She knows about deprivation all too well having grown up in the extremely poor city of Barranquilla, on the Caribbean side of Colombia.

"Being a militant or a drug trafficker are the only options," she said of the port where more than 50 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.

So, in 1996 armed with a thin cheque book in her tiny hand, the singer started the Barefoot Foundation in a bid to reverse the trend.

US President Barack Obama met her in 2010 at the Oval Office to get her advice on education for Latino children and she was asked by the Brookings Institution to be the celebrity behind its proposal to create A Global Fund for Education.

In March, Shakira doesn`t mind admitting, she shed a few tears at a ground-breaking ceremony for her foundation``s seventh school in Cartagena.

Accompanied by the philanthropist Howard Buffett, Shakira laid the first brick of her foundation``s seventh school in Cartagena.

The project will provide change for 1,500 boys and girls who receive an education and for more than 58,000 residents of the Cerro de Popa community.

ANI