Remarks: Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales at the Habitat4Humanity House Handover, Ha Rakheleli, Berea, August 16, 2019

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I’d like to thank Habitat for Humanity and the Rakheleli family for allowing us to be part of this momentous occasion. My thanks also to all the volunteers who came to Lesotho to be part of this build, and to my team from the Embassy who lent their hands to the effort.

I am very proud of the partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Lesotho over the last 50+ years. We have achieved many important things together, especially on the basis of strong people-to-people connections. Our Peace Corps program is one of the longest running on the continent, having brought 2600 volunteers to Lesotho since 1967.

Habitat for Humanity started in the United States more than 40 years ago. It now works in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Thanks to people like you, it has helped more than 22 million people achieve strength, stability, and independence through safe, decent, and affordable shelter. Habitat Lesotho likewise has much to be proud of over the last decade hosting teams in this country. Not only do the Habitat teams come to do work – and very strenuous work it is – they also come to meet a community and get to know a special family. It is a great example of the partnership between Basotho and Americans.

Here in Lesotho, approximately 68 percent of households are classified as poor. The challenges of poverty are myriad. Living in substandard housing poses a significant risk to their health, safety, and well-being. Addressing these concerns takes concerted effort and partnership, like the one created here this week between all of you.

Before we conclude, I want to say a special few words to the Rakheleli family – to the boys, no, the young men of this family. Rethabile, Itumeleng, Kefuoe, and Kabelo, this is a very special day. This home will keep you safe, keep you warm, and keep you together as a family – all the things I know your mother would want for you.

I want you also to see this home as a message, from the community, from Habitat for Humanity, the U.S. Embassy, and those who participated in this build, that you are special. You matter. You matter to your family, your community, and you matter to the future of Lesotho.

Please know that I am proud of each one of you. I am excited for you to take the keys of your new home and to get to know your new space. Within these walls, you will grow into the healthy, successful young men you are destined to be. This is the proper home for a future policeman like Kabelo, who will work tirelessly and with honor to protect and serve his community.

Again, my very best wishes to you for good health and much happiness with this new home. Kea le lebohela. Khotso, Pula, Nala.