Remarks by Ambassador Matt Harrington PEPFAR Small Grants Program Award Signing Ceremony

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

Kee thabile ho ba le lona koano American Embassy kajeno. Kee lakatsa ho nka monyetla ona ho le amohela ka mofutu. Ntsoareleng, kee bua Sesotho hanyane, empa kee tla bua English hona-joale. Kea leboha.

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 special 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 Health, Minister of Social Development and Minister of Agriculture who have joined us here today,
Director of Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure today to award grants to eleven groups working to fight the effects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Lesotho. AIDS remains a national emergency in this country, with a devastating impact on families, on communities, and the society as a whole.

I am proud to say that the American people and the United States Government are long-standing partners in Lesotho’s fight against this terrible disease. Since 2007, we have provided more than $193 million to support Lesotho’s response to the epidemic, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). That equals about 2.2 billion Maluti.

Each year, the PEPFAR program sets aside $150,000 (approximately 1.7million Maluti) to support communities across Lesotho through its Small Grants Program. This program helps local communities and organizations strengthen the care and support they provide to HIV/AIDS patients and to families affected by the disease.

In 2014, the competition for funding from the PEPFAR Small Grants program was fierce. We received more than 75 applications for funding and narrowed it down to you, the top 11. You are here today because we believe in your projects. We believe they will have a real impact on the communities you serve.

Please accept my congratulations – for your strong applications, but more importantly, for your commitment to the work that you do each and every day to support those in need. Thank you for your service and for making a difference.

I would now like to invite a representative from one of the recipient groups to share a few words on behalf of all the grantees. Please welcome Ntate ‘Neko, Project Coordinator of Bana Ba Rona. His group will use their funds for a layers project aimed at supporting local orphans and vulnerable children.

[Speech by Community Group Representative – Ntate ‘Neko of Bana Ba Rona]

Thank you Ntate ‘Neko.

Now, if you will permit me to offer a few words of guidance. As you work to implement your important project, please keep in mind that this grant is not a blank check. 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.

Your proposals were selected because we have faith in your ability and intention to use these funds wisely. Each of you today has pledged to manage the funds carefully, 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 to you all. I wish you the utmost success with your valuable work.

Kea leboha.