27 February 2012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

A Country that Neglects Its Young Destroys Its Own Potential, Secretary-General

Warns at Zambia’s Fountain of Hope Centre for Vulnerable Children

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Fountain of Hope in Kamwala, Zambia, on 25 February:

Thank you so much for this warm welcome.  I am very much inspired by such exciting games, particularly the children playing.  This Fountain of Hope shows what is possible when we pull together.  The Government, our Zambian civil society partners, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee are making a real difference here.

I am so inspired by the children I met today, like Isaac and Aggie and their friends.  Thank you all for your warm welcome.  I have seen from your faces the future, the bright future, of Zambia.  Congratulations to all Zambians for your success in the Africa Cup of Nations.  Chipolopolo!

They are scoring real victories by staying healthy, growing strong and learning life skills.  Nothing is more important than investing in a country’s children.  A country that ignores or neglects its children destroys its own potential.  A country that cares for and nurtures its children will definitely be strong.

I am so moved to meet these children today who once were living on the streets, orphaned and hopeless.  It is inspiring to see them standing tall in their schools and communities.  The life skills they are learning can help them make the right choices, cope with stress and protect themselves from dangers like HIV/AIDS.

On behalf of the United Nations, I commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia, Fountain of Hope, the London 2012 International Inspiration programme and all our partners for their support and for coming together to change children’s lives in such a positive way.  I thank Joseph Katema, Minister for Community Development, Mother and Child Health.  But my biggest congratulations are for the children themselves, including Maria Lungu, who is now in law school.

When I get back to the United Nations, and when I travel around the world, I will share what I saw here today and how much I was moved, and how much bright hope I have seen in these young children.  This Fountain of Hope proves that with the right encouragement, anyone can score a great victory in life.

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For information media • not an official record