Kaká and hunger essay winner part of the same team

By Redazione

Milan, 5 October 2007 – From the streets of São Paolo to the bright lights of Milan’s San Siro stadium, 9-year-old Nicole Ribeiro and
WFP ambassador Kaká are a long way from home, Nicole visited WFP’s Rome headquarters and met Kaká in Milan as her prize for winning a hunger essay competition.

WFP spokesperson Barry Came travelled to Milan and discovered Nicole and Kaká shared a common passion – the burning issue of hunger.

For a nine-year-old from the tough streets of suburban São Paulo, Nicole Ribeiro Ferreira is remarkably poised. The bright lights and the
rolling television cameras do not rattle her, nor does the tall, lean figure towering over her.

“What’s it like to be an ambassador for the World Food Programme?” she asks the tall young man. “It’s a job that makes me very proud,” replies Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as
Kaká .

The exchange took place recently deep in the bowels of Milan’s San Siro stadium in the immediate aftermath of a football game between Parma and Kaká’s AC Milan .

Face to face

“There’s so many hungry people in the world,” Kaká told his young compatriot, speaking in Portuguese for the benefit of the cameras recording the event for Brazilian television.

“If I can somehow use my profession, my own success in football, to turn the spotlight on the problem of hunger in this world, then I’m only too happy to be doing it,” he said.

Diminutive Nicole nodded her agreement. Hunger is something she knows something about. In fact, her views on the issue were the main reason she was standing beside Kaká in front of the
cameras at San Siro.


Earlier this year, she wrote an essay on hunger as part of a WFP-sponsored contest connected with Walk the World activities in Brazil.

Thousands of children participated in the event, drawn from 20 schools in the working class district of Garulhos on the outskirts of São Paulo.

Nicole won with a simple but moving essay which described hunger as “a form of violence” and called on governments everywhere to create the conditions to allow people to live “with more
dignity” and make the world “a better place”.

Trip to Italy

First prize in the contest was a five-day visit to Italy for the winning student and her teacher, courtesy of WFP and the Brazilian Embassy in Rome.

Nicole and her teacher, Rosana Mio da Silva, spent most of their time in Rome. They met WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, who presented them with several tokens of the agency’s
appreciation, and Brazilian Ambassador Jose Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, who conducted them on a tour of the Brazilian Embassy.

They held a working session with WFP’s school feeding unit, exploring the details of a programme that is similar to a government-run scheme in Brazil. They also had time to take in many of the
usual tourist sights of Rome, including the Vatican and – Nicole’s favourite – the Colosseum.

The match

For both student and teacher, a highlight of their Italian sojourn was a journey on a high-speed train from Rome to Milan to meet WFP’s Goodwill Ambassador, Kaká, and watch him and his
teammates in the “rossonero” – red-and-black – strip of AC Milan play a game of football.

“Too bad Milan didn’t win,” said Nicole after the game. “They could have. They had a few opportunities,” she added.

Like virtually all Brazilians, Nicole is a football afficionado, whose favourite club is Sao Paulo, Kaká’s team when he was still playing in Brazil.

Values and ideas

Kaká may no longer play in Brazil but Nicole remains a fan. And the feeling seems mutual. Kaká readily volunteered his time – and the hospitality of his football club – after
reading Nicole’s essay on hunger.

“I liked that essay a lot,” he said. “It was a fine piece of work. And it shows that Nicole, despite her age, is already developing ideals and values, the right kind of ideals and values, the
kind the world needs.”

WFP Executive Director Sheeran also voiced admiration for Nicole’s essay. During her meeting with the young girl, Sheeran wondered what the inspiration had been.


“I wanted to do something about hunger but I’m only a child,” Nicole replied, “so I decided the best thing I could do was write my thoughts that might then motivate others to act.”

To help spur Nicole’s motivation, Sheeran gave the young girl a few books and brochures that outline many of WFP’s activities in the world. “Share them with your fellow students when you go
home again,” the Executive Director urged. “They might help you remember all the hungry children in the world.

As reward for her efforts, Sheeran gave Nicole a WFP watch, a pair of tee-shirts and a WFP cap. “Now you’re part of the team,” said the Executive Director. “WFP is proud to have you. We need
young people like you.”

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