American Red Cross: International Red Cross Day
Venue: Sanganigwa Youth Center, Kigoma
May 8th, 2007
Remarks by Ambassador Michael L. Retzer
Hamjambo? (How are you all?)
Waheshimiwa Wageni Waalikwa (Honorable invited guests)
Mabibi na Mabwana (Ladies and Gentlemen)
Nimefurahi kuwa hapa leo (I am happy to be here today.)
Samahani sana kwa Kiswahili changu kibaya (I apologize for my poor kiswahili)
I am happy to join you today in commemorating International Red Cross Day. As we have heard, the Red Cross is working hard every day to help prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters, complex humanitarian emergencies and life-threatening health conditions.
The U.S. government is pleased to be able to support Red Cross in its efforts, in both the areas of blood safety and HIV/AIDS peer-education. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known as PEPFAR, is providing funding and technical expertise to assist you and other groups like the Red Cross in this important work. This year alone we are providing over 200 million dollars in HIV/AIDS funding through prevention, care and treatment programs. Our goal is to prevent 500,000 new HIV infections by the end of the PEPFAR initiative, and blood safety and peer-education programs are crucial links in reaching this objective.
For the youth and the peer educators here, I’d like to thank you for your involvement in today’s activities, and for taking advantage of all this center has to offer. Study after study proves that frank and open discussions about safe sex are essential to fighting AIDS. These discussions are certainly not always easy, but by learning more about how to have them, by strengthening your own life-skills, and by encouraging safe behavior -- for yourself and those around you -- you are helping to prevent the spread of HIV.
Prevention is not just happening at this center. The National Blood Transfusion Service and Red Cross workers are carrying the prevention message to every blood donor that they meet. And the benefits continue – not only are these donors being educated on their personal behavior and avoiding infection, but every time that a volunteer participates in this program and is able to donate blood, they are contributing to a national blood bank that can ensure no HIV/AIDS infections.
The Blood Transfusion Safety Program is particularly essential in less populated areas like Kigoma and it is saving lives every day. We all owe a debt of gratitude for the service that they are providing and innumerable thanks to the repeat voluntary blood donors – your contribution is the crucial link in saving lives through safe blood transfusions. We couldn’t do this without you.
In truth, the peer education program’s name, Together We Can gets to the heart of the solution. It is only by working together that we can truly enact change. That is why your involvement here today is so important. Thank you for your willingness and commitment to this cause. Thank you for embracing the tools that will enable change and safety for us all. And, thank you to the American Red Cross for its tradition of excellence in its work around the world and right here in Tanzania.