Celebration of 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

(as prepared for delivery)

  • Distinguished colleagues from the diplomatic and NGO community
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me today to take part in this important event.  I would like to start by sharing a quote from an Italian educator, physician, and innovator, that I have admired...Maria Montessori. In 1949 she wrote “the child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”  These words remind me of the intrinsic intelligence and capabilities of all children no matter what country or family they come from.

I grew up as an immigrant in two different countries as a child, as my parents sought to provide me with every possibility for success in life. As a parent, I see the great potential in my own daughter and that same hope is reflected in the eyes of the families and communities that we work with at USAID.

USAID Cambodia supports health, education, and child protection programs to enable Cambodian children to access quality education, to grow up in safe, nurturing family environments free from violence, and to be healthy. Our work is guided by the U.S. government strategy of Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity, which emphasizes the importance of strengthening the capacities of children, adolescents, and the families that care for them. This is one of the best investments a country can make to eliminate extreme poverty, boost economic growth, and promote a peaceful society.

USAID works hard to better the lives of Cambodian children. Let me share a few examples. Through investments in maternal and child health, we supported children and families achieve critical growth and development milestones to build the strong beginnings necessary for life-long well-being. Over the last five years the USAID partnership with Save the Children has prevented more than 1,900 Cambodian children from being stunted.

Recognizing the critical role protective family care plays in developing essential intellectual, physical, and social capacities in children, USAID has supported Cambodia to transition from reliance on residential care settings to promoting safe, nurturing, family-based care. Through a collaborative network of child protection organizations and the Family Care First initiative, we helped prevent family separation and reintegrated children into family care. We’ve recently visited children who were living and begging on the streets in urban areas. These children are now thriving in safe, family environments and have been able to return to school. Stories such as these would not have been possible without a commitment to strengthening Cambodia’s child protection system in.

Our All Children Reading program has supported a nationally adopted Early Grade Reading program that has helped improve student reading abilities and will reach more than 200,000 Cambodian primary school students this school year. All Children Reading has also increased access to education for children with disabilities. One such child, in Kampong Thom, was out of school because she was deaf. We worked with the Commune Council to help this girl learn sign language so that she can study with her friends at school.

USAID Cambodia will continue to support Cambodian children just like that girl to reach their full potential through programming and strategic partnerships with both the Royal Government of Cambodia and our implementing partners. With such a holistic approach to their development, children can fulfill their potential and promise for humankind as noted by Maria Montessori.

I would like to wish all of you a wonderful celebration.

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 24, 2020

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