Costa Cruises and international superstar Shakira celebrated the official start of an initiative with the Fundación Pies Descalzos for the construction of a school in Cartagena, Colombia. The project is aimed at helping local children and families by providing quality education to disadvantaged children and a community center.

During the presentation, Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises, delivered the first brick of the school to Shakira, called the “Brick of Happiness,” to symbolize the beginning of the project. The construction will start in Cartagena in 2018, when the brick arrives on a Costa cruise ship after its journey from Barcelona, Spain, to Cartagena. During the sailing both the Costa crew and guests will be able to leave a dedication and a special message.

The new school will be built between the districts of Ciudad del Bicentenario and Villa de Aranjuez and is scheduled for delivery in June 2019. The school will provide education to 1,300 local students from six to 18 years of age. The school follows the public quality education model created by the Fundación Pies Descalzos. The model includes nutrition and health programs as well as special training activities for parents and the community. The center will also be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, such as a library, auditorium, dining hall, sports areas, laboratories (professional development, scientific and technological), areas dedicated to early childhood development, and more than 40 classrooms.

The school continues a strong partnership between Costa Cruises and Shakira, which began with the “Happiness Squared” promotion in 2015. Costa Cruises has also been actively participating in the Foundation’s philanthropic causes.

“As a strong company operating worldwide we have the duty and the opportunity to support the communities in the different continents,” said Neil Palomba, Costa Cruises president. “Starting late 2014, we established the Costa Crociere Foundation as the natural evolvement of the social and environmental footprint Costa Cruises has carried on over the years. Today our engagement towards the Fundación Pies Descalzos allows us to provide help to children and their families also in South America.”

The donation initiative fits perfectly with the philanthropic efforts that Costa already conducts through its Costa Crociere Foundation. In Africa, Costa supports Mercy Ships, which deliver essential medical services; in Asia, Costa Crociere Foundation provides financial support for the education of 500 disadvantaged children in the Philippines; and in Europe the Foundation is strongly engaged in promoting the social and environmental betterment of communities through 21 projects.

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