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Remarks by Ambassador Lisa Peterson: Moya Centre Open House Event
October 30, 2019

Representatives of businesses, Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society,
Women’s organizations,
Members of the community.

I am honored to be part of this event to celebrate the important and varied work of the Moya Centre.  It is inspiring to see all the beneficiaries and partners here today, who have come together to showcase their projects and successes.

The Moya Centre has been at the heart of community service in Eswatini for nearly 20 years, and during that time it has grown and evolved into the organization we see today—an inspiring example of a grassroots organization committed to addressing the problems of the community from within the community.  When ordinary people work together to invest in their communities, they can accomplish extraordinary things.

At the heart of American society lies a deep sense of responsibility for and commitment to one’s community.  One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, famously established the first volunteer firehouse in 1736 to give community members a stake in, and responsibility for, responding to emergencies.  In 2018, almost 77 million Americans, more than one-third of all adults, volunteered in their communities, giving almost 7 billion hours of their time in service.  We believe in the transformative power of communities and community organizations.

The Moya Centre is an example of that spirit of service.  It offers help, comfort, and refuge for the most disadvantaged among us.  Moya Centre has not only provided resources and hope to orphans, vulnerable children, and youth for years through services like tutoring, after-school care, mentoring programs, and psycho-social support.  It has also recognized the need to provide opportunities and resources for young people and economically disadvantaged heads of household.  We all know that investing in children and youth allows them to thrive.  When children feel safe and they have access to education, it leads to significant improvements in quality of life, development of essential skills for self-reliance, long-term job prospects and a young person’s sense of self.  It also raises the living standard of whole communities, because young people who grow up surrounded by hope and support bring in resources and economic opportunity.  Moya Centre is also wisely expanding to focus efforts on entrepreneurship and economic growth opportunities throughout the region.  Moya Centre is ideally placed to provide indirect assistance that addresses core drivers of inequality.  This includes skills training for income generation, financial literacy training, small business skills, and more.

The most effective grassroots organizations leverage community resources, leaders, and partners to effect change.  And like Moya, they are part of the fabric of the community—invested, committed, and perfectly positioned to make change that lasts.  Larger international and non-governmental organization may come into a community and offer wonderful resources, but when the resources are spent, they have no other ties and often leave.  The connections and partnership that grow from a local, service-oriented organization like Moya are deep and should be nurtured.  When properly tended, they can inspire more service-based organizations in the community and effect more positive change.

Service organizations often grow into effective advocates for deep systemic change, as well.  Organizations that see the struggles children and families face every day know what kind of change to lobby for and they can be powerful voices calling on leaders and public officials to make policy changes that address the root causes of inequality.

I want to congratulate Moya Centre on taking the lead in mobilizing services and resources to serve your community. I appeal to everyone here, leaders, partners and beneficiaries to maintain their full support for community-based organizations like Moya Centre.  With your continued commitment to improving conditions for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Eswatini,  you are building an even brighter future for tomorrow.

Siyabonga (Thank you)