By Tim Saunders on
Tennis star Anna Kournikova was in New York yesterday to ring the opening bell on the stock exchange for charity.
The 27-year-old attended the event on behalf of the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America, an organization she has been involved with since 2004. First established in 1860 and affiliated in 1906, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America can be found in over 4,300 locations around the US and help over 4.8 million children and young adults to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
“I’m proud to be associated with a group like Boys & Girls Clubs of America who recognizes this need and is proactively providing resources to make this happen,” she said.
Last month, Kournikova undertook a charity mission of another kind when she visited Haiti for Population Services International's Five and Alive/Youth AIDS programs, initiatives that help improve the lives of kids around the world, ages five and under, by educating and helping their families to prevent causes of death such as AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and diarrhea (caused by unsafe drinking water).
In her official blog, Kournikova wrote: "As I’m sure most of you are aware, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it’s been extremely difficult to try to describe and express what I saw while I was there. You can read all the statistics on paper, see pictures of the kids and families that are there and see pictures of all the destruction that occurred during last year’s hurricane season, but all that information fails to tell the real story of the people that live through it every day. It is completely devastating and difficult to process in one’s mind. It becomes even harder to understand when you realize that Haiti is only about 2 hours away from Florida (by plane) and how close it is to the prosperity that we enjoy here in the United States.
“For me personally, I’ve seen poverty before, that wasn’t what shocked me the most. Having grown up in Russia, where 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, I’ve seen kids running around barefoot because their families couldn’t afford shoes. What shocked me about Haiti, where 70% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, was just the complete lack of basic human needs, and the amazing amount of disease and sickness that is so prevalent within the population. Diarrhea is rampant and is a major cause of infant deaths, simply due to the lack of clean drinking water. I’ve never seen so much trash and waste, on every street, on every single road. They don’t have the systems to get rid of the waste in a proper way, not to mention recycling, so they have to burn it in the streets. There’s no infrastructure or programs of any kind, whether it’s plumbing, waste control, sewers, clean water, etc. It was so difficult to see those conditions with my own eyes.”
Copyright © 2009 Look to the Stars