Statement by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka,
and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT
at the reception of hosted by the
Government of Kenya on the occasion of the
22nd session of the
Governing Council of UN-HABITAT,
Nairobi, Kenya, 31 March 2009.
Your Excellency, Honourable Kalonzo Musyoka, Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya, and Minister of Home Affairs,
Your Excellency, Honourable Clifford Warmington, President of 22nd session of the Governing Council;
Honourable Ministers, Members of Parliament, Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a profound word of thank you, on my behalf, and that of UN-HABITAT that we are all gathered here tonight as guests of the Government of Kenya. For years Kenya has stood by us as our host country and the home to the only UN Headquarters in Africa.
And so, I call on everyone here to raise their glasses in a special toast of gratitude and friendship. We feel very much at home because of your support and warm hospitality.
As we stand together and celebrate this tonight, let me share with a personal story about our Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. It dates back to his first visit here in January 2007.
As I escorted him through Kibera, and he was welcomed by so many people most of whom had trudged long distances to see him, he turned to me and said, and I quote: “I feel much humbled by what I am seeing now. It makes me resolve again my firm commitment to work for the improvement of the living conditions, education, water, sanitation, housing – all these are the challenges which we must overcome.”
And the very next day, he committed funds to enable UN-HABITAT to do still more to show this country’s wonderful people that we believe no-one should be left behind. And that is how, from our evening walk in Kibera that the Moonbeam Youth Empowerment Programme came into being.
Then yesterday, as most of you recall, we held the first Moonbeam graduation ceremony. I know that many of those young graduates are already sharing what they have learned in their new apprenticeships, thus adding value and aiming as high and reaching out to as many as possible.
Those young people are an incredible source of inspiration. They refuse to be cowed by the dire economic crisis facing all of us. They are now showing us how we must work together in small ways for the greater good of us all. Despite all the challenges that they and their families face, they are striving for a better tomorrow.
Having started by helping our young Kenyan friends, we can truthfully say that, in turn, we have much to learn from them.
As we enter the crucial phase of this Governing Council in forging consensus on decisions that will guide our common future, let us keep in mind the spirit of working together that is coming from our youth.
Thank you Mr. Vice President, thank you Honourable Minister, thank you Kenya!