Bill Gates takes global charity work to streets of Paris
Bill Gates took to the streets of Paris Monday to sign works of graffiti in a media stunt to highlight the campaign by the Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist to help the world's poorest people.
"I'd love it if everyone in France could go to Africa and see the great things going on there" as humanitarian aid reaches millions of people, he told AFP.
"Since that isn't possible we thought we'd get some artists to illustrate in their creative way some images that will get people thinking about these issues," he said after signing works by street artists Artof Popof and Dag.
Gates later travelled to the Trocadero area of the French capital to pose alongside some of the works with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
His Paris trip was timed for the French launch of the "Living Proof" campaign his philanthropic foundation has set up along with ONE, an advocacy group that fights poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
Gates said it was particularly important in this time of economic crisis for governments to maintain and even increase the tiny slice of their budgets they currently devote to foreign aid.
France is in a unique and powerful position through its current leadership of the G8 and G20 groups of rich and emerging nations to make sure the issue of aid to the world's poorer countries remains a priority, he said.
"It will take President (Nicolas) Sarkozy's leadership and creativity to make sure that these issues that relate to the poorest countries stay on the agenda," he said.
Gates was due to travel to Berlin on Tuesday on the next leg of his trip to promote the "Living Proof" campaign.
One part of the campaign is to challenge perceptions about foreign aid.
"I was amazed when we'd ask people in rich countries about foreign aid, what their image of it was, and they thought about dictators who had been backed in the Cold War," he said.
"They really had an out-of-date image and I thought it was very important to tell them about the smart aid, the vaccines that save lives, that help kids develop," Gates said.
His foundation's website provides examples of how aid is helping save lives. In the last 50 years, child deaths in the developing world have been cut by more than 50 percent, despite the birth rate increasing, it noted.
Polio cases have been reduced by 99 percent since 1988, while measles deaths in Africa dropped by 92 percent between 2000 and 2008 and malaria cases have been reduced by 50 percent in 38 countries in the same period, it added.
Gates, who rose to fame by founding the Microsoft software empire, has since turned most of his attention to philanthropy, fighting disease, poverty and promoting innovation and education in the developed and developing world.
In 2006, US billionaire Warren Buffett announced that he would leave a part of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
© 2011 AFP