Shakira appeals for school aid in storm-hit Bangladesh

Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:29am EST
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DHAKA (Reuters) - Grammy Award-winning musician Shakira appealed on Wednesday to the world community to help rebuild schools in cyclone-devastated Bangladesh.

Shakira, a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ambassador, arrived on a three-day visit to Bangladesh on Monday and toured several coastal villages.

She chatted to children who lost parents and mothers who lost children or spouses.

"The world should give a helping hand to rebuild schools in Bangladesh," twice Grammy Award-winner Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll told Reuters in an interview.

" ... because schools are the only place where children can pass happy moments forgetting all their saddest parts of life."

Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh on November 15 with winds of 250 kph (155 mph) and a 5 meter (16 ft) sea surge that battered large parts of the coast. Nearly 3,500 people died and millions have been left homeless.

"I rushed to Bangladesh when I came to know that some 3,000 schools were damaged in the cyclone," Shakira said.

The storm also destroyed crops and infrastructure worth more than $2 billion. It is the worst disaster to hit the impoverished South Asian country since 1991, when a storm killed about 140,000 people.

"I will never forget the faces of mothers who lost their children and the children who lost their parents," she said.   Continued...

<p>Colombian singer Shakira performs during the "Ein Herz fuer Kinder" (A heart for children) TV gala in Berlin, December 15, 2007. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/Pool</p>