Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. at the USADF Grants Signing Ceremony

USADF Grants Signing Ceremony

Murewa, Mashonaland East


Masikati Tatenda  ndafara kuvapano.

Good afternoon – honorable ministers, members of parliament, government officials, traditional leaders, councilors, district administrators, our distinguished grantee – Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care, LEAD director, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen.   Thank you for having me here today.

And a very special thanks to the young man, Gaylord, and young lady, Linda, who came forward today to share their stories.  I know that it takes a great deal of courage to tell others what you have been through and that in the telling you are reliving difficult moments in your life.  Your stories are inspirational.   You have shown us that through perseverance anyone can become what they dream to be, given the opportunity.  Today, we thank Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care for giving children like Gaylord and Linda and many other orphaned and vulnerable children, a second chance in life.  Who would have known that today we would be celebrating your many achievements?

It is because of your self-determination, your ability to grab every chance and opportunity presented to you and turning it into a success; we are calling you true champions today.  You did not make your circumstances define you and your future – you are examples not only to orphans but to every man and woman out there.  Not only have you inspired us, but you have also given voices to the stories of the many orphans and vulnerable children out there.   In order for there to be change, those stories must be told – congratulations Gaylord and Linda.

I am honored to be with you this afternoon to formalize our support to the development programs created by Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care and thank you to the staff for all that you do every single day to support the 784 orphans and vulnerable children who live here.  And a very special thanks to Linkages for Economic Advancement of the Disadvantaged (LEAD) Trust for working with underserved communities to provide technical support, including participatory project development, development of business systems, and expansion of business.  The poultry project we have just seen here today is a testimony of your hard work and is exactly why we are gathered together this afternoon: to celebrate your exceptional organization and the great work you are doing to improve your community.

Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care, you should be extremely proud to know that USADF selected your project from among hundreds of applications across the country! Makorokoto!

One of the primary goals of the U.S. Mission to Zimbabwe is to help expand inclusive and sustainable economic opportunities and to increase the number of Zimbabweans who live longer healthier lives.  To achieve this, we work through our agencies such as United States African Development Foundation (USADF), an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support African-owned enterprises that improve lives in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa.  USADF’s foreign assistance in Africa is an investment in local economic development for peace and security today and prosperous U.S. trading partners tomorrow.  USADF invests directly in community enterprises, providing seed capital and local technical support to early stage agriculture, energy, and youth-led enterprises in Africa.

Today, we are awarding a grant worth over $150,000 to the Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care Poultry Production and Marketing Expansion Project.  This project funded through USADF will run for 60 months.  This grant represents a partnership between the people of the United States and the people of Zimbabwe.  Through this grant we are supporting your efforts to pay school fees of orphans, provide uniforms, stationery, and a hot meal each day, as well as procure groceries and infrastructure to families in need, and wages to vulnerable community members for part-time work.  Your project provides a model for others to follow and an ideal project for U.S. funding in that it is community-focused, apolitical, and outcome-driven.

We know you will face challenges during your project implementation.  Do not let that discourage or deter you.  My colleagues in USADF and LEAD offices are here to help you solve any problems and find solutions to any unforeseen challenges that might arise during the life of the grant.  Please take advantage of their expertise and keep the team updated on how your grant is progressing.

We wish your organization success as you continue your good work in providing assistance to orphaned and vulnerable children in Murewa and we are happy to be able to contribute to your efforts.

Thank you for having me here today to share with you what role the U.S. Embassy is playing in supporting Zimbabwean-owned enterprises which improve lives in marginalized and vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe, as well as enhancing investment in local economic development for peace and security today and prosperous U.S. trading partners tomorrow.   Much work remains to be done, not just here, but around the world.  In empowering communities directly, in continuing the important work of Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care, by inspiring others to change how they act and how they think, together we will make tremendous strides to benefit generations to come.

I look forward to signing the grant agreement with you in a moment, and again, congratulations for your accomplishments.

Tatenda.  Thank you.