Good morning and thank you for joining us at the official launch of the new and expanded Orange Babies Computer Lab in Rehoboth. This is one of five initiatives that the U.S. Embassy supports through the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund. The Self-Help Fund is a grassroots assistance program that enables the United States Embassy to assist directly in response to requests from local communities. Our aim is to help communities around the world deliver immediate solutions to local challenges.
The U.S. government does this because America itself is made up many local communities. We, as Americans realize as Project Supervisor Irene Mouton did here, that often the best solutions for a community come from within the community.
What distinguishes the Ambassador’s Self Help Fund from the many other types of U.S. programs is that the grant awards enable communities to identify a problem, develop a solution, and draft a proposal to access some additional assistance…from the American people.
The Orange Babies Computer Lab was selected through a competitive process from among 500 applications. The diverse selection panel was comprised of experts representing a broad range of fields who recognized that the trainers and students in Rehoboth were prepared to commit the requisite time and energy needed to make this joint project a success.
I want to particularly commend the following people for their leadership role: Irene Mouton as project supervisor, David Oake, the Peace Corps Volunteer who has assisted the community, and former students who are now serving as trainers in the project.
It is important to note that the community of Rehoboth has earned more than one Ambassador’s Self Help Fund award in recent years. The Hardap Training Center, also here in Rehoboth, took advantage of a Self Help grant to purchase ovens, bread machines, industrial sewing machines, and bicycles. Expert-led training programs now include computer literacy, office administration, typing, needlework, upholstery, weaving, catering, baking, food dehydration, and leather work. Thanks to this training, 175 men and women support themselves – but just as importantly, their success has inspired their family members and other area residents to strive for similar successes.
I am a firm believer in partnerships forged under programs like the Self Help program. These grant awards empower individuals to work within their communities to devise local solutions to local challenges; in doing so, even the smallest communities are able to shape their own destinies. I am proud to be a part of your efforts.
Before I close, I would like to congratulate the current students here today. You have taken the first, significant step on an important journey that will help chart your career path. You have demonstrated initiative and if you maintain your resolve, you will be better positioned to improve your livelihood and the lives of your families. I salute you and wish you the very best in your training.