U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
At Celebrating Golden Hands – Bringing an End to Marginalization,
hosted by KMG in Durame SNNP Region, Kembatta Zone
October 17, 2015
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
(As prepared for delivery)
Tuma Yontando. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of Kembatta zone, all of you who have come here from other zones, distinguished guests, members of the government. It is truly a beautiful day for a celebration!
It is an honor for me to be here today, celebrating your community’s achievements, and the contributions the Golden Hands have made to those achievements. Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to learn more about the Golden Hands—their way of life, their remarkable art, their status in society, and their history.
This history has not always been pleasant; which is why I am delighted to hear about the changes and progress our partner KMG has helped bring about through Community Conversations in this Zone over the last several years. These conversations have resulted in decreases in gender-based violence and an increase in positive attitudes towards artisan communities such as the Golden Hands. These positive changes would not be possible without a lot of hard work by members of your communities. We applaud your efforts!
All around the world, the United States government actively recognizes the importance of ensuring that artisans are included in the entrepreneurial and cultural fabric of their communities and their nation. Empowering artisans and other marginalized groups is in everyone’s interest. Empowerment builds freedom, human dignity, and self-worth for individuals and groups, while also strengthening the entire community by building cohesion and mutual respect.
As President Obama said during his visit to Ethiopia a few months ago, “Every person has worth, every person matters. Every person deserves to be treated with decency and respect.”
The U.S. government is proud that we were able to support KMG through our USAID programming to address issues which are absolutely fundamental for strengthening your communities. From humble beginnings just up the hill behind you, KMG has shown what can be achieved through hard work and persistence. Through USAID’s recent support to KMG, 85 percent of participants successfully learned to read and do basic mathematics, as well as gain life skills in improved health and sanitation. Over 50,000 people, both men and women, benefitted from this effort. Through our work with woreda officials and service providers, we have also witnessed improvements in service providers’ engagement with citizens, to help improve service delivery.
There have been many successes, including increased incomes; intermarriages; better access to land and enhanced confidence and self-esteem. These all indicate that despite the history, change is possible, so I implore you all to continue the hard work in making this community a community for all.
It is important to continue to build on these achievements and to continue the Community Conversations, using them as a platform for activating change. I urge you to continue building community ties with artisan communities such as the Golden Hands, empowering them, and promoting gender equality by working together as agents of change.
Thank you once again for inviting me to be a part of this celebration. Unfortunately, I have to depart for another event back in Addis Ababa tonight so I am sorry I cannot stay till the end.
Let me just close by reminding all of us that without the work of Golden Hands in Ethiopia, the United States and around the world—we wouldn’t have so many of the cultural treasures we value so deeply. Galatam, magan asune (Kembatygna—thank you, God bless you).