Item 946 - Speech at the opening of a Healing Garden and Children's Parliament

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Speech at the opening of a Healing Garden and Children's Parliament


  • 2003-11-03 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Opening of the Healing Garden, last day of Children's Parliament, Midrand

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  • English

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Every occasion we dedicate to the concerns and the future of children can only help to make us a better nation and a more caring people. There can never be too much of these occasions and events.
In fact, I always say that every day of our lives should be devoted to them for they are our sole future. In every day of our lives we should find some time and space for consciously thinking about and doing something for a better life for a child and for children generally.

I am told that yesterday a Children’s Dialogue was conducted and that some of the main issues affecting the lives of children were discussed. I assume that children themselves were involved in these discussions and dialogues. So often we make the mistake of talking about children, forgetting that they are the ones who most acutely experience those needs. And that they are quite capable of articulating those needs and experiences.

One way that we can build a better future for children is by empowering them through allowing them to speak up for themselves. Of course, we as adults have to guide them and to take ultimate responsibility but that is something quite different from patronising them. The Rights of Children must, importantly, include the right to be themselves and to talk for themselves.

If we want to be the caring society we thought we were striving for during our fight against the iniquities of apartheid, we must eradicate all traces of violence against and abuse of children. No form of violence can ever be excused in a society that wishes to call itself decent; but violence against children must surely rank as the most abominable expression of violence. It subjects the most vulnerable and the weakest to indignity, humiliation, degradation and injury.

The horror of the rape of children and babies is almost unspeakable if it were not that we must exactly speak about and speak out against such horrible pathologies in our society. We must confront the ugly faces of our nation – this one too – and then work to change it. We must create a general climate and culture of caring, one in which such atrocities find no place.

Our past had created social circumstances of family disruption and dysfunction. We are now the builders of our own future and fate; and it is our responsibility as a new nation to create a child- and family-friendly environment.

The alleviation and eradication of poverty are key elements in that process. We know that the moral strength of our people always lay in their capacity to triumph over abject circumstances and to build lives of decency even in conditions of poverty. Poverty does, however, always place heavy burdens on people struggling merely to make ends meet. Children, together with women and the aged, are always the ones carrying the brunt of the suffering inflicted by poverty and deprivation.

No consideration of the conditions of children can be conducted today without placing on top of the list of issues and concerns the matter of HIV/AIDS.

They, the children, who have the least to do with the propagation and spread of the disease, are, as so often, the most severely hit. Not only are they as new-borns in danger of infection in the mother to child process; as orphans of parents who died AIDS-related deaths, they present one of the great tragedies of suffering in our times.

When we call upon all to join in the fight against HIV/AIDS it is particularly also with the suffering of children in mind.

Let us, as an old teachers’ organisation in the Cape used to say, live for our children. Let us put their rights paramount in our considerations of building a better society and a better life for all. For they are our future, our only future.

It is in that spirit of building a more caring society, one that cares at its heart for our children who are so often the main victims of abuse and neglect, that I declare open this Healing Garden.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Transcribed by NMF. Accessioned on 14 Aug 07 by Razia Saleh; Adam Kaloides




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