Ladies and Gentleman,

Allow me first to welcome you all to this Board Meeting. It is not normal for the chair to make an address on occasion of these Board Meetings. But I request your indulgence to make a few remarks even if in the process of doing so, I am defying my own established tradition of dispensing with statements. Yet since I will be leaving the board, I hope you will understand that a few remarks are in order.

Today, as we are in the 9th year after the birth of the African Child Policy Forum (2003) 23rd year after the adoption of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly, (20 November 1989) and 13 years since the African countries adopted the African charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, we have many things to celebrate as an institution | wish in particular, to once again commend the outstanding work done by Dr! Assefa Bequele‘ the architect behind the creation of the ACPF.

Ato Assefa had a vision for the continent’s children. it is a combination of his genuine passion, commitment and most of all the discipline to strive for his vision that rought us where we are faster than expected. it is that discipline that drew him to decide to commit himself to the objective of giving the African Child a platform and voice.

Thus, ACPF's focus has been on improving the wellbeing of the African Child. We cannot claim to have reached that goal; however, we have managed to at least change the attitudes of many, their mind set and beliefs. We have managed to touch many hearts across this continent. Let us not oniy applaud Dri Assefa, for his immense contribution but also be inspired to move forward these great achievements in the service of all African Children.

Prevailing attitudes and beliefs that were there when we started, giving adults an upper hand and power to decide for the lives of the child, are slowly but surely giving way to current realities and requirements. With children councils, telephone help line, the observatory, forums and debates, the voices of African children are now being heard. We should look up to the time when we will see more parents seeking and giving room to their children‘s opinion before deciding on things that directly affect their lives.

Ladies and Gentleman

None of us needs to be reminded that we are still surrounded by children languishing in poverty, children whose families are not able to even give their children one meal a day. Neither has technology taken us to a point where we have glasses dark enough to prevent our eyes from seeing the tears in the eyes of many children in Africa‘ crying because of the abuse, violence, neglect‘ hardship, they are subjected to. Nor can we forget that plight of children who are denied of their normal childhood development as they are forced to kill or be killed as child soldiers; Nor for that matter the plight of those children forced by circumstances to loiter in the streets without any meaningful prospects that when the sun goes down they will have a place to put their heads or something to put in their stomach.

When i iook back to the time the idea of creating the African Child Policy Forum (The ACPF) was conceived, i look at time filled with chalienges and opportunities — a combination of which has brought us where we are today.

As the Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees for the last 9 years, I feel a sense of considerable satisfaction and optimism. As an institution we have not only matured, but working within the parameters defined by our vision and mission, ably supported by tne management and staff within the office, and those scattered all over the world, ACPF today commands respect, locally, regionally, continent wise and internationally. We work closely with our Continent Premier Institution, the African Union which has given our organization due recognition.

Nine years after the establishment of ACPF the welfare of African Child is now on the map in the political, economic and social arenas. Our governments might not have managed to feed every hungry mouth, found shelter, clothing and medical treatment for every child. They might not have provided the most appropriate education to every school age child. Nor can we claim to have been able to convince every government to make budget priorities for children in Africa. Nor have Governments enacted enough laws, by laws and regulations to guard and protect every child as we might have wished to do.

However, we can stand up today in all spheres; local‘ national and international gratified that we have managed to create a platform for action and government commitment to this‘ one of the noblest Thanks to the ACPF, the plight of the African Child is now in front of the eyes of children themselves, policy makers, and planners.
Legislation, enforcement of the law and social rights for all without discrimination is part of the achievements. The needs of children with disabilities, orphans, street children, children at risk now stand as priority agenda in many of our countries. Where the process was slow we have at least managed to accelerate it, where there was no will, we have managed to sow the seed of commitment. We had through our initiatives, managed to open the doors for improving the welfare of the child in Africa. It has not been easy.

Our focus has been in improving the welfare of the child and today we can say with some degree of satisfaction that commitment Within African governments to continue with the process assures us that the status of children in the house hold, communities and in government machinery (laws, policies) will definitely change the
status of the child in our continent We have through consultative meetings‘ conferences, research, reports, round table forums, made our intentions and ommitment to improve the rights and well being of the child in Africa universally known.

Ladies and Gentleman,

We thank all those in different arenas, for having understood our mission, vision, intentions, and aspirations and opted to generously support us. We thank them for having joined us in widening our parameters in doing advocacy work, protection, law, health, fight against diseases, malnutrition, promoting the rights to education, shelter and a decent living.

it can hardly be emphasized that today’s children are tomorrow‘s adults. They are our future leaders in all domains of human endeavours. It is thus extremely important to do whatever we can to better their lives; free from hunger, free from ignorance, free from oppression, free from all sorts of violence and most importantly give them hope for the future. African Children are the destiny of our continent. We have every reason to be optimistic for the tomorrow of Africa. The ACPF through its work has managed to make its own contribution by creating a positive environment for change. The political will. the network established within countries, between countries, among civil societies and other non-governmental organizations is a strong  foundation to build on.  

Ladies and gentleman

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and pay tribute to all those who have made possible our journey so far. I would like, first and foremost to thank all the members of the International Board of Trustees, past and present for their invaluable contribution. l have already paid tribute to the founder Executive Director, Dr. Assefa Bequele. Clearly however, he had a team of dedicated, efficient and committed staff which made his success and our success possible. Among them, of cause is our current Executive Director, Mr. David Mugawe, who has since the assumption of his new responsibilities has steered well the institution with dedication and commitment and making full use of his experience I can not concluoe my remarks without expressing my appreciation and gratitude to the Government of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for the cooperation and assistance they have extended to our institution since its inception.  

I also want to pay tribute to all the donors for their generous contribution which has clearly facilitated the work of ACPF. Although this is my last Board meeting i want to assure you all that I will continue to be concerned: follow very closely and support the work of this Institution.

I thank you all.