Monday, February 28, 2011

Speech at the Official Inauguration of the Phnom Penh SOS Hermann Gmeiner School

Phnom Penh, January 22nd, 2011

Your Venerable Monks,
Mr. Helmut Kutin, President of the SOS Children’s Villages International and accompanying delegates,
Excellencies Country Ambassadors and Representatives of National and International Organizations,
Dear children, teachers and compatriots!

I am honored and pleased to be here to inaugurate “The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Phnom Penh”. First of all, on behalf of the people of Cambodia, I would like o convey my deepest gratitude to the SOS Children’s Villages International that has built this school to contribute to the Royal Government’s response to children’s vulnerability.

The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Phnom Penh which is to be inaugurated in a short moment, is another gift from SOS Children’s Villages International to the people of Cambodia, made possible by the hard work of Mr. Helmut Kutin and firm support from all 133 member countries of SOS-KDI. The school is a gift from SOS-KDI on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of SOS Children’s Villages Cambodia’s Operation in Cambodia (2000 – 2010).

I would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank Mr. Helmut Kutin, the president of SOS Children’s Villages International for this invaluable school. It indeed helps us address children’s needs of education, especially those living in SOS Village Phnom Penh and nearby.The humanitarian mission of the SOS Children’s Villages International is a significant contribution to the global effort in saving orphans and vulnerable children. Along with this, I sincerely appreciate the management and officials of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation who have strived with full responsibility to serve the society, in particular, strengthened the cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages International to materialize what we see today.

Also, I deeply appreciate the invaluable and humanitarian mission of SOS Children’s Villages International that keep alive the effort of its founder, Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, an Austrian national, in saving vulnerable children all over the globe.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to show my support to poem, drawing, traditional dance and other contests held in the schools run by SOS Children Village Cambodia as these activities will further promote children’s welfare.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Dear the children and compatriots,

The inauguration is held while the country is fast moving forward in all areas as institutional capacity and ownership have been strengthened. In particular, we manage to attain a robust economic growth over the last decade, thanks to strong performance in agriculture, industry, tourism, construction, and infrastructure sectors. In addition, social sectors such as education, health, rural development, gender equity and welfare of children, disabled people, veterans, retirees have been gradually improved too, as reflected in various CMDG indicators.

What we have achieved cannot be separated from the Royal Government’s especial effort on social affair, veteran and youth rehabilitation sectors in order to increase job opportunity, reduce vulnerability among the poor, expand rescue mission during disasters, intensify rehabilitation programs and assistance for disabled people and families of dead soldiers and promote the welfare of old people, orphans and victims. Moreover, the Royal Government is determined to establish and implement a far-reaching and sustainable social safety net system to provide cushion to the poor and vulnerable people. We implement and protect children’s universal rights, including the right to life, the right to special protection, the right to full and harmonious development and the right to participation in communities as stated in the Convention of the Rights of Children.

The Royal Government has been building more schools to realize its one commune – one lower secondary school and one district – one high school target, more importantly, to ensure that all children receive the basic 9-year education so that they can go to vocational training centers in case they cannot go to higher education institutions. More schools mean shorter distance to house and fewer dropout rates. To attain this, the Royal Government has been gradually increasing its expenditure on children.

The Royal Government also increase its effort to promote welfare of all the people and protection for infants and children through vaccination programs and prevention of HIV. As a result, children’s health has been greatly improved, in particular, we managed to eliminate polio in 1998. Moreover, the Royal Government has introduced and implemented sharp measures to eliminate the trafficking of women and children, suppression and commercializing of children and engaging children in arm conflicts as stated in its national five-year plan and strengthen enforcement of international laws and cooperation with other countries to protect children. The Royal government has also undertaken measures to prevent all forms of suppression and commercializing of children including illegal use of children labor, trafficking and engaging children in prostitution and arm conflicts as well as engaging in indecent acts on children at communities.

In addition, the Royal Government has promoted the provision of services to vulnerable children of poor households and orphans. Indeed, there are about 11, 945 orphans who have been adopted and taken care of by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and about 4, 884 orphans are living in other communities. In this spirit, the Royal Government has continued focusing on solving the issues of homeless children, and of few families living on the streets in Phnom Penh and other urban areas; because those families and children can easily become victims or face with other dangers such as health problems, losing future, taking drugs, AIDs, prostitution, becoming gangsters and living in an aimless manner. Parallel to this, the Royal Government has expanded infrastructure and activities of theCambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) at the national, sub-national, and ministerial-institutional levels in order to promote exercising of children’s rights. The implementation of policy for taking care of children and expanding children protection network at various communities have been carefully paid attention to. All these tasks have to be implemented side by side with educating the children, implementing the laws, rehabilitating the youths and along with the vocational training in order to turn them into good citizens in society. Through this, we can say that so far we have made many remarkable achievements to support the works relating to socio-economic development; however, I think we still have many more tasks that need to be solved together in order to realize more achievements and new successes in our duty and mission to serve our homeland and people.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Compatriots, Teachers and Students!

The common duty for national development that we have been attentive to is a key to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development of the country. That includes investment in the children’s welfare sector that we necessarily need to work hard with our utmost effort to help families and children who can easily falling victims and already be victims in order to enable and provide them with an opportunity to live and grow in a good social context.

In this regard, I think all these tasks require the involvement of our development partners and other organizations, especially the private sector. In this spirit, on behalf of the Royal Government I would like to highly appreciate the SOS Children’s Village Organization, which Mr. Helmut Kutin is the president, for having been cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation since 1999 and has made many achievements including: “The SOS Children’s Village Phnom Penh Thmey”, “The SOS Children’s Village Siem Reap”, “The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Angkor Siem Reap”, “The SOS Children’s Village Battambang”, “The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Battambang”, and “The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Phnom Penh” for which we are holding the inauguration ceremony today. If we sum up the six projects above we can see that Cambodia has received many benefits from the organization including employment generation and solutions for vulnerable and victimized children; based on the report there are altogether 240 managers, staff, host mothers and teachers, 509 children, 1,402 students studying here with the total construction budget of US$ 9 million and annual operation budget of about US$ 300,000 a year. This achievement is a virtue of charitable work of SOS Children’s Village International Organization, which is working in line with the declaration of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner for children in February 1969, “The future of the nation is not determined by only technology and political development, but also starts from the success of feeding people of the forthcoming generations with dignity all over the world”.

First, human dignity means that children have real dwelling, regular daily meals, full and adequate education. In SOS Children’s Villages, children who are orphans or cannot live under their parents’ guardianship due to poverty or domestic violence or unfavorable environment for development have been provided with permanent residency in comfortable and secured family environment. Those children will receive proper education to gain extensive knowledge and appropriate vocational training aimed to achieve better living in their communities.

Based on this, the Royal Government and myself strongly hope and believe that the SOS Children’s Village Cambodia will continue expanding its network the SOS Children’s Village Cambodia and build more schools with the aim to promote children development for the cause of universal children’s welfare. In this spirit, orphan children will get a new opportunity from the organization such as being able to attend schools with harmony and warmness provided by host mothers and teachers looking after them for their progress and future development.

Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government I would like to assure you that we will continue provide close cooperation with the SOS Children’s Villages International, as reflected through my active support for Mr. Helmut Kutin’s mission in the past.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to request the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, theCommittee of the SOS Children’s Villages Cambodia to continue good cooperation with the SOS Children’s Villages International in order to expand the number of Children’s Village projects and the Hermann Gmeiner Schools. That includes continue implementing the project with the SOS Children’s Villages International in other provinces as well as implementing the policy on taking good care of the children and the minimum standard for the cause of promoting welfare and the four rights, aiming to contribute to poverty reduction of the people through political platform and Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government.

Moreover, we have to put further efforts in making more laws in order to be used as foundation to sustain the humanitarian mission, in which there are law on justice for unlawful person, Law on the Children’s Welfare...etc.

I would also like to appeal to teachers, parents and staffs working for the Chilldren Village-SOS Cambodia to put the greatst efforts in helping to take care of our Cambodian children by maintaining good character, being gentle, having good morality and following good advices, hard-working, being well-educated, in order to become good children, good students, good friends and good citizen in the future.

At the same time, I would like to appeal to related ministries/institutions and the competent local authorities to pose favorable conditions to the operation of this Children Village Organization-SOS Cambodia and the Children Village Organiation-SOS International even though they have already operated or will be having its operation in the near future, to smoothly process with the spirit of solidarity and good cooperation for the sake of the better interest of the children.

I strongly hope that this Children Village Organization-SOS International, led by Mr. Helmut Kutin, truly has the high potential to continue constructing 3 more Children Villages in the near future in Shihanoukville, Kratie and Preveng.

Before ending, I would like to wish the Children Village Organization-SOS International to constantly and smoothly progress for its humanitarian objectives. Along with that, I would like to wish Mr. Helmut Kutin and all delegates the best of health with new successes in its noble mission.

At the end, together with the Official Inauguration of the Hermann Gmeiner SOS School, Phnom Penh now, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests, all Compatriots, Teachers and all Students the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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