they’re not only great footballers…
… but also great persons. Let’s start with Fernando Llorente.
Remember the Euro qualifier Spain played earlier this year on March 29 against Lithuania, in which Fernando Llorente wore a shirt without the star, and Álvaro Arbeloa joked about how they were going to have to draw it in for him? Well, now we know why.
Fernando heads Save the Children’s latest campaign, “donate your star.” And he’s done exactly that, giving his star to the adorable six-year-old Aarti, whom he met while traveling to India this past summer and who is the other protagonist of the campaign. This initiative is an effort to help children receive the proper medical treatment that they need in order to survive and make it past the age of five, when their chances of survival increase.
Aarti is so tiny next to Fernando!
A giant constellation will be made from all the stars donated by persons who collaborate with spreading the campaign, supporting the organization’s work and making donations. The campaign was presented in Bilbao on Monday.
Aarti, for example, is the youngest out of four siblings and lives with her parents in a house that is barely four meters square in size. As she’s the only girl and the youngest, normally she’d receive little education and medical care. But thanks to Fernando and Save the Children, she has a “star” now, giving her the opportunity to achieve her dream, which is to become a teacher when she grows up.
Fernando said during the presentation, “”It’s something that I’ve always had in mind, to help those children who have difficulties simply in trying to live to the age of five. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with Save the Children. The trip to India is one of the most important experiences in my life… it touched me deeply. Hopefully everything I’ve done will help to get people involved and to collaborate.”
What a beautiful man.
According to Save the Children, 7.6 million children under the age of five die each year from various diseases, including pneumonia (18 percent), diarrhea and related illnesses (15 percent) or while being born (12 percent). Every four seconds, a child under the age of five dies from a disease that can be easily prevented with adequate medical treatment. Around 3.1 million newborns die each year, more than half in their first 24 hours of life. At present, 40 million children do not have access to basic medical care, vaccines or treatment for diarrhea. Two-thirds of these children can be found in three countries: 13 million in India, eight million in Nigeria and five million in Ethiopia. And 350 million children won’t see a medical worker in their entire lives. Get more information here (in Spanish).
Meanwhile, Carles Puyol fronts a United Nations Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and International Animal Rescue (IAR) campaign to save orangutans from extinction. The initiative is called “Act Now For Orangutans.” According to the UNEP, less than 66,000 wild orangutans are left in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra, and more than half of that population has been lost since 1950. They quote Carles as saying, “The plight of the orangutan is an issue that touches me profoundly. When I was asked if I would support the campaign, I didn’t hesitate. Time is running out fast for these magnificent great apes and I’m proud to be part of efforts to save them.” Get more information here on orangutan conservation, re-forestation and the impact of palm oil production on orangutan habitats.
Several of our other players also donate a lot of time and effort to charities. Cesc collaborates with SOS Children’s Villages, while David Villa has done a lot of work for Ronald McDonald House Charities, and is a friend of UNICEF, in addition to lending his singing voice to help out Mali. PF Juan Mata is also one of UNICEF’s representatives in Spain (in England now, I suppose). Iker is a UNDP goodwill ambassador, very involved with PLAN and organizes an event each year around Christmas time to raise money for charities, including his own foundation (this year’s event helps youth at the risk of exclusion). Sergio Ramos is the patron of the Apascovi Foundation, and also a friend of UNICEF Spain (remember his trip to Senegal?). And we always see the likes of Gerard Piqué and Vicente del Bosque donating their image and time to charities related to Down’s Syndrome, because they both have family members with that condition. And around this time of the year, many of our footballers make appearances in charity calendars, while Andrés Iniesta is once again fronting the “Un Juguete, Una Ilusión” campaign. These are just a few of the many examples. If you want to highlight any other ones, leave a comment!