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Thursday, November 29, 2007

"59th Annual Bambi Awards "

Dusseldorf, Germany

"Thank you Minister Genscher for your kind words. I will do my best to live up to the noble spirit of this award.
 
And let me pay tribute for your years of public service. Germany has long been respected for her philanthropy and global citizenry...helping those whose lives have been blighted by natural and manmade disaster... time and time again.
 
And thank you, Dr. Burda, for your inspiring example of humanitarian leadership, and for all you do to build bridges of care and compassion around the world.
 
Let me also thank you for elevating me in the eyes of my four children. You can imagine the scene in the playroom when they heard Mama was getting a Bambi!
 
My seven-year old, Salma, assuming I was coming to Düsseldorf to collect a real live Bambi, asked if she could come to help me take him home. She thought he would be frightened by the aeroplane.
 
Iman, her older sister, thinking ahead, cleared a space for Mama’s Bambi statue on her shelf!
 
Me? Well, when I think of Bambi, I think of that most memorable and heartbreaking scene in the film, when, after the tragic shooting, the Great Prince courageously turns to his son and tells him “Your mother can’t be with
you anymore…”
 
Sad as it is, Bambi is only fiction… it is make-believe. But for many children, some of its themes- sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, growing up too soon, and struggling to survive-are tragically real.
 
Around the world today, there are too many heartbreaking scenes and they are not being played out on cinema screens or on DVDs. They are real stories. And for too many children, they are playing out every minute of every day.
 
They are real for an entire generation of boys and girls growing up in Gaza, Palestine, who are stunted physically for lack of food; stunted emotionally because they live in a virtual prison; and stunted academically because they are trying to learn in a climate of deprivation and fear that no child should have to endure.
 
They are real for the more than 1.6 million Iraqis under the age of 12 who have been rendered homeless in their own country and now depend on the Red Crescent for survival.
 
They are real for the 30,000 children under five who perish every day – many for want of the basic childhood vaccines that Germans and Jordanians take for granted.
They are real for the 2 million children around the world trapped in dark corners of sweatshops...their young shoulders burdened by the responsibility of feeding their families on paltry wages...their small hands irreparably gnarled or burned by chemicals and beatings.
 
And they are real for the 58 million girls collecting water and caring for siblings when they should be learning with their friends in school.
 
These are not scenes that we can fast forward, or press pause on.
 
But if we work together, we can change these stories and statistics; we can lift the lives of our most precious citizens.
So tonight, as we celebrate individual achievements, let us remember we belong to one family…and that the children who do not have anyone to hug them when they are sick, or the children who are doing housework not homework, or the children who are missing out on their childhoods... are our children and our responsibility.
 
Let us pledge to give all of them our full attention. Let us pledge to take a lead role in their futures. Let us leave this room with the resolve to make their lives better, safer, and healthier.
 
And let us ensure that more children get the healthy beginnings they deserve, and the happy endings they dream of. Thank you."

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