U.S. Ambassador Thomas Daughton Kutwano Sports Equipment Hand-over Remarks, Katima Mulilo, Zambezi Region
It is a great honor to be here with you today – not only to hand over sports equipment funded by the United States government to Kutwano Organization, but also to witness how it is actually used; and how it contributes to overcoming one of the biggest challenges in societies all over the world: the inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities.
Disability is not inability! If anyone knows this best, it is you. People with disabilities can and want to partake in everyday activities at all levels, be it professionally, academically or in sports. And I would like to add: they MUST partake in these activities; and it is organizations like Kutwano that make this a reality. I would like to make it very clear that inclusion is nothing less but a human right. It is however a right that we have to strive and fight for. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is an uphill battle.
That is why we need dedicated people, like Kutwano Organization who in collaboration with the U.S. government and others, is helping pave the way to overcome these obstacles to inclusion.
And I am proud to see that our support of sports equipment through USAID does not only benefit Kutwano as an entity but all people with disabilities in the Zambezi Region, reaching out to people even in remote areas through awareness, training, and sports competitions.
Strengthening Kutwano with this equipment donation has a positive ripple effect; it allows you to successfully take part in national and international competitions. More and more communities and specifically people with disabilities hear about you, get interested and participate in sports themselves. This is a good thing.
With U.S. government support Kutwano could also procure office equipment for the necessary administrative work. This includes computer, printer, scanner, copier, fax and office furniture, which you haven’t had before.
All of this combined already resulted in remarkable achievements such as:
Sending two (2) athletes to represent Namibia in the 2016 Nedbank Paralympic Games in South Africa in March 2016. I am very happy that these two (2) athletes are here with us today: Kennedy Tiyeho and Misika Zibiso. Kennedy participated in shot-put and javelin and won himself Gold and Bronze medals while Misika participated in 100 and 200 meter races and returned home with Gold and Silver respectively. I am very proud of you. A round of applause for this exceptional achievement.
The Regional Paralympic competition on 25th June was even held right here in this stadium with participants from five (5) out of eight constituencies. The sixteen (16) best athletes then represented Zambezi Region at the inter-regional Paralympic Competitions that took place in the Oshana Region one month later.
The team returned home with a whopping 14 medals: 10 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze, and as you can see they are all here today. Some of these exceptional athletes will also be part of the Namibian team at the international Paralympics Games in South Africa next year.
All of this is only possible if you have the means of practicing your respective sports codes, and this was made possible through USAID support, which included javelins, shot-puts, discuses (correct: disci), stop-watches, batons and two special athletics chairs, among others.
Currently, Kutwano Organization is busy mobilizing and training people with disabilities in all eight (8) constituencies of the Zambezi Region in preparation of the first ever inter-constituency Paralympic Cup to be held on 15th December 2016. I wish you all the best for this competition, and I have no doubt that you will once again shine and return with even more medals.
In the United States we often talk about the “American Dream”. This “American Dream” is enshrined in our declaration of independence proclaiming everyone’s right to pursue happiness. And you may know that the very same principle, pursuit of happiness, is equally enshrined in the preamble of the Namibian constitution.
And we all agree that happiness requires full participation in social activities – such as sports. For everyone. Also for people with disabilities.
So, we are together in this. The Namibian and the United States governments are partners. And hand in hand we shall continue to strive for this human right: our shared vision of inclusion.