July 18, 2002 12:10 PM

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz will serve as president of a U.S. branch of the Sabera Foundation, which provides education, health care and employment programs to women in Calcutta, India, reports the Associated Press. She has been working since 1999 with the organization, which was founded that year by Spanish musician Nacho Cano and was named for a young girl and her mother, whom Cano featured in a documentary about poverty-stricken people in India. “Sabera has created an environment for young women and children to improve their lives and receive equal opportunities despite lack of resources,” said Cruz, 28, in a statement. The Sabera Foundation has provided permanent work for more than 150 people since its inception and operates homeless shelters, schools, medical clinics, a computer-training center and a music academy. A fund-raising event is planned for Oct. 10 with proceeds going toward the construction of hospitals and schools in Calcutta. Actress Melanie Griffith and model Esther Canadas are charter members of the U.S. division.

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