At Opening of Global Philanthropy Forum in DC, Queen Rania Urges "We Cannot Affort to Be Protectionists"

April 22, 2009

(Office of Her Majesty – Press Department – Washington, D.C.) - In the keynote address at the 8th Annual Global Philanthropy Forum Conference in Washington D.C., Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah on Wednesday stated that “the need for global philanthropy is more urgent than ever before.”

Donors, social investors and emblematic agents of change from around the world gathered at the Global Philanthropy Conference to address global challenges in the areas of poverty, climate change, health care and access to education, in an effort to find shared solutions and collectively discuss strategic philanthropy objectives.

“The current economic crisis is wreaking havoc on development,” Queen Rania pointed out, “But this conference itself is a powerful antidote to tough times,” she added at the event which also celebrates Earth Day.

Highlighting the value of altruism inherent in the human act of giving- Queen Rania also expressed sincere gratitude to participants attending the annual conference.

“All of you here, through your commitment and compassion, are extending lifelines of hope. And more than that, you’re tilling the soil from which social renewal can bloom,” said Her Majesty.

After a brief pause of reflection, Queen Rania then asked the audience a crucial question which lies at the very core of any effective global development debate: “How do we know when philanthropy is making a positive difference?”

Holding a jar of Jordanian apple jam in her hand, Queen Rania explained how the answer can be found in the story of a 9-year old Jordanian girl, Leila, who showed appreciation to her community through a remarkably simple gesture. “Leila’s lesson is that philanthropy means so much more than just giving money,” said Queen Rania as she narrated the little girl’s extraordinary story.

Leila, who comes from a disadvantaged neighborhood outside Amman and is a member of the Madrasati student committee at her school, took up the challenge to come up with an idea which would make a healthy nutritional breakfast.

Realizing what an excellent opportunity this made for taking action, Leila decided to collect uneaten apples from her classmates which she then made into an enormous jar of jam with the help of her mother. In recognition of the efforts exerted by her community which worked hard with the Madrasati team to revamp her school, Leila then offered the jam to her school friends for breakfast.

The jam was so delicious, Leila not only continued to feed the children at school, but also began selling her jam in the local market with the intention of reinvesting her profits back into the school to refurbish the cafeteria and upgrade the computer lab.

As Queen Rania gently lifted up the jar of Leila’s homemade jam, showing the audience what an incredible social entrepreneur this young girl made, she said: “Philanthropy means giving bold thinkers like Leila the chance to lift their whole community and to realize the power within themselves to change things for the better.”

Highlighting the benefits of investing in educational reform the Queen then asserted: “when it comes to education, the power of philanthropy can be even bigger- not just within communities and countries but among them, stitching together humanity’s frayed seams, especially at a time of global turmoil.”

“Education is not only a problem, but also a solution – because when we look at the obstacles we face, education can help us overcome them all.” Her Majesty concluded.

Before the conference, Danah Dajani, Director of the Madrasati Programme (My School) briefed the audience on the idea behind the initiative highlighting progress and results achieved to date. Madrasati, which was launched last year by Her Majesty as part of a five-year plan aimed at renovating and revitalizing 500 of Jordan’s neediest schools, is currently targeting an additional 100 schools in Madaba, Balqa Jerash, and Ajloun.