Ambassador Matthew T. Harrington Remarks – U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Award Signing Ceremony

Khotsong bo-‘m’e le bo-ntate and welcome.

Thank you for being here today for this special event.  I want to acknowledge in particular those of you who travelled a very long distance to be a part of this ceremony.   I am delighted to be able to welcome all of you to my home.

Before we proceed, I would like to pay my respects to:

His Majesty King Letsie III,

The Right Honorable the Prime Minister,

Members of His Majesty’s Cabinet, in particular the Minister of Education who has joined us here today,

Secretary of Lesotho Evangelical Church Schools,

Other Distinguished Members of the Audience,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure today to award $54,000 in grants worth approximately M655,000 from our U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund to six schools and one training center in Lesotho.  Each school will use the funds to improve significantly the learning conditions for both students and teachers alike.  This year, the competition for these funds was extremely tough, and the applicants especially strong, so congratulations to recipients here today.

The U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund provides grants to schools and local organizations that are working to improve the basic economic and social conditions of their villages or communities.  Grants are awarded once each year to projects which demonstrate local initiative and sustainable impact.

I am proud to say that the U.S. Embassy in Maseru has supported local community organizations and schools across Lesotho for more than 40 years.  These funds have enabled many Basotho communities across all ten districts to improve their socio-economic conditions.  Projects have ranged from providing new classrooms that alleviate overcrowding and provide shelter for Basotho youth, boreholes that provide safe water for entire communities, and pit latrines that increase overall hygiene and prevent disease.  These projects – one of many U.S. assistance programs here – are testament to the strong ties between the people of the United States and the Basotho people, and our shared commitment to building a prosperous future for all Basotho.

One key reason the Self-Help program has been so successful is because of the buy-in and commitment from the communities themselves.  Once awarded a grant, the organization or school is required to contribute at least 10% of the amount of the award in funding, labor, or materials.  This ensures that community members are part of making a difference with these funds, and it is why these projects succeed.

Today I am delighted to award grants that will help six schools and one training center in Lesotho invest in the next generation of Basotho.  These funds will enable communities to build new classrooms, construct ventilated pit latrines, renovate a science lab, and start an instructional layers project.   I know these projects will have a tremendous, positive impact for the students and teachers, and for their communities.

As you embark on these worthy projects, please permit me to offer a few words of guidance.  The funding for this program has been made possible by the generosity of the American people, and one of my most important responsibilities is making sure that the American people’s assistance is well spent and has a positive impact.  These are not blank checks.   They are funds that you all pledge to manage professionally, using good accounting practices, submitting reports as required and scrupulously documenting every expense.   We in the Embassy look forward to working closely with you during the course of your project to help you fulfill that critical commitment.

Congratulations once again to all of you.   We wish you the utmost success with your valuable work over the next twelve months.