Stephen M. Silverman
December 13, 2006 09:15 AM

Shakira has launched a star-studded foundation to combat child poverty: the Latin America in Solidarity Action, whose Spanish acronym is ALAS, or “wings.”

The Grammy winner, 29, joined forces with fellow Colombian and Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez to launch the campaign in Panama City on Tuesday, with a promise to fight conditions that kill 350,000 children each year in the region, the Associated Press reports.

ALAS was conceived about a year ago by Shakira, who also heads the Colombia-based nonprofit foundation Pies Descalzos (or “Barefoot”), which helps child victims of violence. Shakira started that foundation when she was just 18, after her first hit record.

“As soon as I harvested that success, I created that foundation,” Shakira, who last month performed a benefit concert to build an arts school in her hometown, told PEOPLE last year. “Now it’s really growing and has tangible results. It is as important as my musical career.”

Spanish singer Miguel Bose will serve as executive director of ALAS, which its promoters say will not seek to replace other organizations that work with children or eliminate governments’ obligation to eradicate poverty. Rather, ALAS plans to bolster existing efforts.

One of programs will provide health and nutritional aid to expectant mothers and children younger than 2, while another will seek to enroll exploited and homeless kids in school.

“We all have to do our part to fight against inequality,” Shakira said in a news release.

Other musicians lending support to ALAS include Ruben Blades, Juanes, Ricky Martin, the rock group Mana, Aleks Syntek, David Bisbal and Alejandro Sanz.

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