Portuguese champion Benfica Football Club visits UNDP projects in Haiti

26 May 2010

Visit follows over US$750,000 proceeds from the Match Against Poverty transferred to early recovery programmes in Haiti

 
(from left to right) Vieira, president of Portugal’s Benfica team, Joao Gabriel, Benfica’s external relations expert and star striker Saviola visit a cash-for-work initiative in the neighborhood of Tokyo, Port-au-Prince.
(Photo: Mariana Nissen/UNDP)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - A delegation from Portugal’s Benfica Club, including Argentinean star striker Javier Saviola and Luis Filipe Vieira, president of Portugal’s 2009/2010 champion football team, finished a two-day trip to Haiti where they visited United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) early recovery projects following the January12 earthquake. 

Benfica Club played a key role in organizing the Match Against Poverty, a football game held in Lisbon on January 25 featuring French football legend and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Zinedine Zidane, as well as Saviola, Kaká and dozens of other stars. The Match raised US$767,000 tallied up from ticket sales, broadcast rights, sponsors and direct donations. Proceeds were transferred to UNDP’s early recovery programmes.

“We are awed by the magnitude of the tasks ahead – for UNDP and for the international community – to support Haiti in this recovery process,” Vieira said. “And we are also glad to have contributed to several projects that are helping create jobs for Haitians while speeding up the recovery process.” 

“I am very well impressed by all the Haitian people working here to rebuild their lives,” Saviola said. “We hope that with the international community’s support, Haitians will be able to build back a more resilient country.”

The Benfica delegation visited a UNDP cash-for-work project with the international NGO Viva Rio, which created more than 2,000 temporary jobs in the neighborhood of Tokyo, in Port-au-Prince. Workers cleared streets and canals used as evacuation routes to prevent flooding and the spread of diseases. The initiative helped revive the local economy and the community’s moral by engaging locals in the early recovery efforts.

 
Photo: Star striker Saviola and Vieira, President of Benfica, meet with one of the NGO managers.

“We are glad that the Benfica delegation could see how their efforts to organize the Match Against Poverty have contributed to put thousands of Haitian men and women back to work,” said Bruno Lemarquis, UNDP’s senior country director in Haiti. “The stars that played and the fans that watched the match have supported the Haitians’ desire to restart normal life in their own communities after this catastrophe.”

The group also visited the waste management project developed by UNDP and run in partnership with the municipality of Carrefour-Feuille, metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, where workers are collecting, recycling and transforming solid waste to produce cooking briquettes that replace wood charcoal. In addition to providing an environmentally sustainable alternative fuel source, this community-led project directly contributes to greater stability and the reduction of gang violence, once prevalent in the area.

Saviola and Vieira also met with the Haitian football team and gave Benfica shirts and gears to the players.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:
Port-au-Prince: Mariana Nissen, mariana.nissen@undp.org; Tel: +509 37 64 35 80 and Dimitry Léger, dimitry.leger@undp.org
New York: Carolina Azevedo, Carolina.azevedo@undp.org; Tel: +1 212 906 6127
Geneva: Aziyadé Poltier-Mutal, aziyade.poltier@undp.org; Tel: +41 22 917 8368, Cell: +41 79 349 16 10,
Panama: Pablo Basz, Pablo.basz@undp.org; t(507) 305-4864

For more information about UNDP’s work in Haiti: http://www.undp.org/haiti
UNDP Haiti: www.ht.undp.org