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Monday, February 19, 2007

Maria Sharapova is UN goodwill ambassador

Maria Sharapova has been appointed a UN goodwill ambassador to promote development goals and fight poverty around the world.

Maria Sharapova Goodwill Ambassador

The Russian athlete will work for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) , which has employed other goodwill ambassadors like soccer stars Ronaldo of Brazil and Zinedine Zidane of France to help fight poverty. Sharapova's work includes campaigning for the achievement of what are known as Millennium Development Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty, put more children in school, promote women's rights and safe drinking water for millions of people around the world.

"UNDP work around the world is making a positive difference in people's lives, and I am proud to add my personal commitment to its work," Sharapova told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York Wednesday as she began her ambassadorship. She donated $100,000 to eight youth-oriented programmes in rural communities in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine in areas that are still affected by the nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl in 1986.

"My first step is to focus on the Chernobyl-affected regions, where my family has roots," she said. "Today, it is poverty and lack of opportunities that pose the greatest threat for young people in the Chernobyl region." Maria Sharapova said she knew little about Chernobyl, but wanted to help young people who are still suffering from nuclear radiation from Chernobyl. Her family fled Gomel, a city in Belarus, after the Chernobyl disaster, for Nyagan in Siberia where she was born in April, 1987.

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