March 02, 2017

Rihanna's humanitarian work 'helps children shine bright like a diamond'

Rihanna visits a school in Lilongwe, Malawi, on behalf of her Clara Lionel Foundation in 2017

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The singing superstar was named as Humanitarian of the Year by the Harvard Foundation for her work in advocating for education, health care and girls' rights.

She's sold more than 50 million albums, had countless Number Ones and picked up eight Grammy awards.

Singer, producer, fashion designer, actor, business woman. And now Rihanna has been recognised for her work in advocating for education and health care and speaking up for girls and women.

She was only 18 when she founded the the BELIEVE Foundation, a charity to help critically ill children. And in 2012 she launched the Clara Lionel Foundation, which supports and funds education and health programmes around the world.

She also became the first global ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education last year - using her voice to advocate for support for education programmes.

This week Rihanna was given the Harvard Foundation award for Humanitarian of the Year. 

The dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, said the star had empowered children to “shine bright like a diamond” and inspired students to “work work work".

Accepting the award, Rihanna said she was only a young girl in Barbados when she was first inspired to help others - by watching television commercials that showed children suffering across the world.

“I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up, and I can get rich, I’m gonna save kids all over the world,’” she said. “I just didn’t know I would be in the position to do that by the time I was a teenager."

Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, said: "Rihanna's voice will be critical during what we expect to be a historic year for global education. 

"World leaders must step up to the challenge of addressing the needs of 260 million children currently not in school to ensure that every child, everywhere, has the opportunity of a quality education."

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