At this weekend’s Slalom World Cup races in Augsburg, German, one Italian racer will truly be paddling for Survival. Not because the boating bombshell is out of her league, but because she’s supporting a charity for threatened tribal people.
Italy’s Angela Prendin, 24, is supporting tribal peoples by competing in the World Cup qualifying races in Augsberg, Germany, in a kayak adorned with the logo of tribal rights organization Survival International.
“I first became involved with them several years ago,” says Prendin. “A friend sent me one of their Christmas cards, which was very evocative for me: an Inuit pulling a canoe across the Arctic ice. That’s when my interest in indigenous peoples and Survival’s work began.”
Prendin’s a paddler every bit as much as a philanthropist. She took up kayaking at the age of 11, and has been a member of the Italian women’s team since 2000, winning a series of national and international titles. In 2008 she missed qualifying for the Olympics by just 29 hundredths of a second.
“A student and athlete’s life is a full one, without access to great financial resources,” she says. “In spite of this I knew I wanted to do more for Survival than simply pay the small membership fee. My competitions often take me all over Europe, and I began to think about international publicity for the charity’s causes.
“The violations perpetrated against indigenous peoples around the world are unacceptable, and I believe it is fundamental that more people know about what is happening to them,” she adds. “Giving a voice to the most threatened tribal peoples through my sport, I hope to contribute in an effective way to the defence of their rights and futures.’
Today, Prendin is an “athlete ambassador” for the charity. And it’s fitting, seeming how her kayak is derived from the traditional kayaks of the North American Indians and the Inuits of the Arctic, which is something she is proud of. “Even if the functions are very different – they use their canoes for survival and as a mode of transport, while I have fun with mine – I like the idea that something so important to me is also something I have in common with indigenous peoples,” she says. “It makes me feel that we share something.’
After the qualifying events of the ICF World Cup in Augsburg, the World Cup final will take place in Spain in September, where Prendin will again paddle for Survivor, which currently has supporters in 82 countries and works for tribal peoples’ rights through education, advocacy and campaigns.