Reports

Closing Remarks by H.E. Prof. Dr. Anna Tibaijuka

GNRC Fourth Forum Report
Closing Ceremony
Remarks by H.E. Prof. Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Humans Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)

It is a great pleasure for me to be invited to the closing ceremony of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) Fourth Forum, which started on 16th June 2012, the Day of the African Child.

I am particularly happy that His Excellency, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, opened the Forum. That in itself shows the importance of this Forum and the matters at hand.

Also, the participation of all of you, Eminences, Excellencies, Senior Religious Leaders and the esteemed participants, proves both the importance and commitment you have towards not only this organization but more importantly to working to improve the children's welfare by fighting poverty.

Dear participants, for the last three days you deliberated on many different issues concerning the wellbeing of children. I have seen and heard your declaration, which expounds your commitment and plan of action. I am particularly impressed by your resolve to start a new initiative to eradicate poverty from among the children. I pray that you will be committed to what you have resolved in Dar es Salaam today that no child will die because of poverty.

I am reliably informed that you are coming from 64 countries of the world, covering all continents. And from my experience working for the United Nations, I attest there is no single country in the world where you cannot find poverty and, with it, children in distress. If this movement can be able to start implementing the resolutions you have committed to in the 64 countries, you will clearly make a great lasting contribution to turn things around for the better. You will make the time and resources invested in this great event very fruitful and productive. You will make everyone a winner. You will leave behind a positive and long lasting legacy.

But, if you put aside the resolutions and wait for the next Forum, the Fifth one, with another theme and declaration, you will be losers!! Losers because you will have wasted both time and money that have made this great event. Losers because you will not achieve your objectives and aspirations. Children will keep on dying because of poverty. The choice is yours.

However, I have followed your track record from your previous events. They have been followed by practical actions in your respective countries and communities. With strong leadership of the Arigatou International, under the most eminent Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, I believe losing will not be your option. It has never been. I am confident that the next time you meet at the Fifth Forum you will be taking stock of the good work and achievement undertaken after Dar es Salaam. You will share experiences and expertise on how you were able to turn ideas of Dar es Salaam into action.

Let me pledge my own commitment to working with you to achieve your goals. Our President, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, has already informed you of our own efforts in this matter, our struggle to improve the situation of Tanzanian children. We are seized with the challenge and determined to succeed.

And I for one, in my own community, both here in Dar es Salaam but also in my home town of Muleba, in Kagera region of Tanzania, where I am a Member of Parliament, children's welfare, be it physical, mental or spiritual health, is my top priority. A happy healthy child is a testimony of a prosperous society with dignity and integrity. A sick, hungry, abused, traumatized child, neglected on the streets of our sprawling cities and towns, instead of going to school, surely reflect badly on us. How will the Lord Almighty judge us when our time comes? We cannot say that we did not see the children hungry and in tears? We cannot tell our Lord, irrespective of our faith, that we were not warned by the holy books to care for children. For example, as testified by Mathew 19(13-15); Mark 10 (13-16) and Luke 18 (15-17), Jesus Christ had this to say on children and the need to pay them attention and give them love, and I quote:

Some children were brought to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples told them not to bother him. But Jesus said Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these. And he put his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

But thanks due to you, in the Global Network of Religions for Children, and the noble work that you do, I believe we shall be able to say that we tried as much as we could. By implementing the resolutions passed here in Dar es Salaam, I believe we shall humbly make our case before the Lord, we did our best. With his blessings, we shall overcome poverty, greed and provide for the children. We shall then be able to Enrich, Inspire and Act. Inshallah.

I wish you success in implementing your resolutions and as people of faith I pray that you will lead us in the fight against poverty and the misery it inflicts on children.

In closing, let me also, on behalf of the Government of Tanzania, and on my own behalf thank you for bringing this conference to our beloved country. Let me also thank you for extending to me this great honor, and inviting me to close this international event. The organizers of this event have done wonderful work. The sponsors of this event have given generously. The participants of this event have shared what they could to make it a success. And last but not least, the service providers at this venue have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. I commend you all.

For those of you coming to us from afar, please now spare some time to see Tanzania and enjoy our warm hospitality. Visit the beaches for a sun tan or make a safari, see the Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater.

I say KARIBU TENA Tanzania. Hakuna Matata.

I thank you for your kind attention.