Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to participate in the ceremony to officially inaugurate the SOS-Angkor Children Village, testifying another achievement which is a valuable donation from the SOS Kinderdorf International (SOS KDI).
To take this opportunity, I sincerely appreciate the National Council for Children, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation and the SOS KDI for their active efforts to explore cooperation and charitable contribution for the cause of saving the orphans, abandoned and poor children in Cambodia.
On this special occasion, I wish to congratulate and highly appreciate Mr. Helmut Kotin, the President of the SOS KDI for his commendable charity mission, succeeding and expanding the works done by his predecessor, Mr. Hermann Gmeiner, who had excreted his efforts in creating many children villages and social service facilities around the world. Those include youth institutions, kindergartens, schools, vocational training and health centers etc.
The SOS-Angkor Children Village in Seam Reap, which we are now inaugurating, is second of the achievements donated by this organization to Cambodia. The first of the donations was the construction and the operation of SOS Children Village in Phnom Penh, whose official opening was held on January 10, 2002. I belief the initiatives and the excellent works of Dr. Hermann Gmainer will continue for the cause of children. They will be further strengthened and developed through the mission taken over by his colleague, Mr. Helmut Kotin, the president of the SOS KDI, – here in Cambodia and around the world.
Though decades of civil war and internal conflicts especially the Pol Pot’s Regime of Genocide have destroyed almost everything and left us with innumerable consequences. The Royal Government of Cambodia has exerted its best to promote the economic growth that favors the poor, and with internal integration the benefits could be spread down to the rural areas. This links to other social measures as such the safety net arrangement, – that is key to reducing the poverty and the suffering of the Cambodian people who living under the poverty line.
In this sense, with its own efforts already made in increasing investments in education and health care, the Royal Government is ready for cooperation with other partners from national and international community and the NGOs to join hand in assisting suffered and vulnerable children. We want them to have their permanent home in a family-like environment, receive proper education and training that enable and orientate them to better living in a community.
Indeed all those efforts of us have helped considerably improve the welfare of our people and noticeably brought positive changes. However, we have many things need to be done in order to reach the level of health and population status that of other countries in the region.
The Royal Government acknowledges that what we have achieved so far in social and economic development, do not fully yet satisfy the need of our people. We have seen economic growth, increases in investment, more job creation, rehabilitated and newly constructed infrastructure and roads enabling improved economic activities and the living of our people. The difficulties are, however, still not solved completely in general. The sexual exploitation and trade on children is still a big concern for the government. Given these challenges, the RGC has set 5 year plan,- a campaign against sexual exploitation and trafficking on children and intensified actions curbing trading and sexual harassments on children in any form. This plan incorporated the international regulations related to children labor.
Though thousands of abandoned and vulnerable children are currently under the care of Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation and of the NGOs, this work is not finished yet. We notice that there are still many street children and families living in Phnom Penh and other urban areas. This is because of conflicts within the families, poverty, serious and repeated floods and draughts. Those children are highly vulnerable exposing to many dangers such as drugs use, HIV/AIDS, prostitution, gangling, health problems and unclear future while living with the underground society.
Indeed, children are the successors and the core elements of any nation. The next generation will be strong and competent depending on how we nurture them both physically and mentally. In that sense, initially they should be provided with shelter, adequate foods and proper education. Thus the Royal Government in its 2nd Term in office as well as its vision in the future considers and envisages education and health care for people are the top policy agenda in the poverty reduction strategy and in implementing the reform programs across sectors. I, myself, will exert my best efforts to serve the needs and demand of all our compatriots. If you all place the trust on me, I will continue serving you in the next term of the government.
I am convinced that Cambodian people will remember, with gratitude, the great contribution of the RGC. This has helped strengthen foundation of Cambodian society for a sound development. Healthy and highly-educated population resulted from investments in health, education and stability for Cambodian children would turn out with outcomes that bear much more value higher than the initial costs of those investments.
Education is key to children development and poverty reduction. In addition, basic health service delivery to orphans here will compliment to the government efforts in improving the well being of Cambodian people and the Village will join with the government in implementing the universal goal of children development ensuring adequate nutrition, clean water and basic education as such. Therefore, the SOS-Angkor Children Village will help Cambodian children to gain and exercise their economic and social right and use their full potential to improve their capability.
I hope and believe that this Village would be a needy assistance for suffered and vulnerable children who come to live here and take it as their home and kind parents, – with warm care, dignified education and stability. Those Cambodian children come to live in this Village will definitely enjoy a harmony among themselves, as brothers and sisters in one family, and they will receive education and vocational training and will help each other in the difficult time.
On this occasion, I once again call on all the local authorities, ministries and institutions at all level to facilitate the operation of this Village, – which is a historically important donation by the SOS KDI. To all the staff working for this SOS-Angkor Children Village, do take your best efforts taking care and educate the children to respect the elders, have good behavior and be bright complying with teachers’ instruction and of good moral, thus becoming a good citizen of the society.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, I highly appreciate Mr. Helmut Kotin and the SOS KDI delegation for its continued support of Cambodia. I urge the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation and the SOS-Cambodia Committee to further their good cooperation with the SOS KDI to expand a network of children villages around Cambodia; – serving the children’s well being and ensuring their basic rights.
On the eve of the passing New Year, I wish the SOS KDI ever lasting progress and success for its humanitarian cause. I wish Mr. Helmut Kotin and the delegation good health and success in your endeavor. In closing, I would like to wish all of you the five gems of Buddhist blessings. May I declare the opening from now on the SOS-Angkor Children Village in Seam Reap, – the assistance of the SOS K.D.I.