Remarks by Ambassador Matthew T. Harrington at PEPFAR Small Grants Program Award Signing Ceremony

Delivered at U.S. Chief of Mission Residence, Maseru

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

Thank you for being here today for this special event.  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 Social Development, Mr Molahlehi Letlotlo, who has joined us here today,

Director of Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, Mr Boshepha Ranthithi

Director of Lesotho Network of AIDS Services, Ms Mamello Makoae

Director of Lesotho Non-governmental Organizations, Mr Seabata Motsamai

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure today to award grants to eight groups who are working to alleviate the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho.  HIV/AIDS remains a national emergency with a devastating impact on Basotho families, communities, and society as a whole.  The projects being funded today will go a long way towards supporting people living with HIV and AIDS and orphaned and vulnerable children in small communities across Lesotho.  Through these projects, group members will have better resources and improved skills to care for each other and the vulnerable members of their community affected by this tragic epidemic.

I am proud to say that the United States government, with the generous support of the American people, has been a major contributor to the HIV/AIDS response in Lesotho, through both multilateral and bilateral channels.  Multilaterally, the U.S. government has committed more than $11 billion to the Global Fund, including $1.35 billion this year alone.  Bilaterally, U.S. support comes through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Since the outbreak of the epidemic, through PEPFAR, the United States has committed $65 billion globally to the HIV response, including $265 million (that’s nearly 3.8 billion maloti) in Lesotho.

Each year, our PEPFAR team sets aside $150,000 (approximately 2.2 million maloti) 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.

The competition for funding from the PEPFAR Small Grants program was fierce this year.  We received 60 applications and through careful review and consideration we narrowed it down to only the top eight projects. You are here today because we believe in your projects. We believe they will have a real impact on the communities you serve.  As President Obama said on World AIDS Day “Together we can forge a future in which no person, anywhere in our world, knows the pain or stigma caused by HIV/AIDS.”

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.

Now, before I conclude, I hope you will permit me to offer a few words of guidance.   As you work to implement your important projects, please remember that these grants are not blank checks.  The funding for the PEPFAR Small Grants 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 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 U.S. 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.