Queen Rania's speech at the World Childhood Foundation Gala NY, USA

September 24, 2015

Your Majesty Queen Silvia, ladies and gentlemen…

Thank you for this award. I am humbled to receive it -- all the more, Your Majesty, because it’s coming from you.

For thousands of children, your Foundation represents the hope of a better life. Not only do you protect the most vulnerable but your support reassures them that, in spite of what they’ve endured, there is still kindness in the world.

Whether it’s helping refugee children in Germany better integrate. Providing children in Ukraine with after-school support. Or protecting children from sexual predators in Cambodia. The World Childhood Foundation is a lifeline for children in need.

But millions more need this kind of help. Urgently.

Because no country or culture is immune from the trauma of child abuse… violence…or neglect.

And such is the fleeting and formative nature of childhood that left unaddressed, these crimes can shape a child’s life: destroy her confidence…fracture her trust in others. Worse, they can cause her to drop out of school, making her even more vulnerable to cycles of violence and hopelessness.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no second chance at childhood. So, with what we have…and who we know…we must all do what we can to keep the youngest members of our global family safe.

In Jordan, the Jordan River Foundation has pioneered innovative protection and preventative programs to support children in danger.

Wherever possible, our teams work with family members in centers to strengthen the family unit and promote a culture of child safety.

But, sometimes, a child needs sanctuary. Dar al Aman – ‘House of Safety’ in Arabic – is our region’s first center to rehabilitate abused children. In this haven of healing and hope, doctors, teachers and care-givers use activities, such as art and story-telling, to dress the physical and psychological wounds that burden young victims.

I am proud of all that JRF has achieved. Not only have we brought the topic of child abuse out of the shadows. But our experience and expertise have become a model for child protection efforts in our region. That means more children can look forward to healthier, happier futures.

I wish all children could.

But for children trapped in or fleeing conflict, the reality is very different.

Orphaned, injured. Driven out of homes. Brutalized. I can’t think of a child in greater need of protection than a child caught in conflict. Especially, a girl. Yet, around the world, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, in South Sudan and many more places, millions of children witness scenes no child should ever see…and experience terror on a scale we can’t even imagine.

And, right now, the plight of millions of refugees, half of whom are children, is unraveling -- one heartbreaking image at a time. 
Meanwhile, here in New York, the UN General Assembly meets to endorse the Sustainable Development Goals which envision a better, fairer world fifteen years from now. But unless we resolve the conflicts and end the crises that cause our children so much pain, the world will neither be better nor fairer.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. So, please, on behalf of the children whose cries are silenced by bullets, brutality, barbed wire or barricades, let each of us raise our voices and urge global leaders to put children first.

For if we don’t, who will?

Thank you all very much.