Remarks by Ambassador David Gilmour on Self Help Fund Signing Ceremony

Ambassador’s Remarks
Signing Ceremony for Self Help Fund
MPR, Dec. 12, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Let me begin by saying welcome to the U.S. Embassy! I know some of you traveled quite long distances to get here, so thank you for coming. It is a real pleasure to be with you this morning for this important ceremony.

Each year since 1964, the Embassy has provided support for small-scale community development projects. Today we will sign agreements to fund 13 new projects totaling $50,000. The goal is to empower motivated individuals and communities to help themselves by providing grants that promote self-sufficient economic development.

Let’s be frank with each other. These are not huge projects. We are not talking about building new airports or hospitals or highways across Togo. These are small projects that were developed by communities to meet their specific needs. In Tsevié the money will be used to acquire school benches; in Glei it is going to create a watermelon garden; in Akamadè it will help women community start a business selling soap. And so on.

But let me assure you, though they may be small, these projects have a big impact. Imagine that with just the little extra income generated by selling watermelons or soap, the people in those communities might be able to afford school fees for a child who couldn’t attend school before. And maybe that child will get good grades, and go on to university, and become a doctor, or a scientist, or a businessman, or the President! That’s how small things turn into big things that change the world.

Let me conclude my remarks by offering my personal congratulations to you and the other members of your project teams for having attained this momentous goal.  Every one of you should be proud that your projects were selected.  It is your hard work that brought you success in the application process, and it is your hard work that will turn these grants into valuable programs that will continue to yield benefits for your communities in the years to come.  You have been chosen not as recipients, but as partners.  We commend you for your efforts thus far and look forward to celebrating your future success.

Thank you.