(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a real pleasure to be with you this evening to celebrate the work of Mentor Lithuania and the development of our newly established Mentor Latvia along with our work in Estonia.
As you will see from the short film that follows Mentor is an international charity that has worked to support drug abuse prevention and the promotion of the health and well-being of young people in more than 80 countries since it was established in collaboration with the World Health Organization in 1994.
I recall with fond memories my visit here 5 years ago when Mentor Lithuania had just begun its work and was setting out on its mission. We knew then that it was going to be a real challenge but thanks to the hard work of all involved, the staff, the Trustees, and the partners, we are able to reflect positively on what has been done and achieved.
The mentoring programme continues to operate. Employees from supportive businesses provide mentors to share and offer an important protective factor to make drug use less likely; Programmes have been developed to work with families, parents and other carers in order to help these vital people in children's lives feel more confident and competent in their relationships with children and able to discuss the issue of drugs.
Work has also been taking place in schools with a practical programme that involves training teachers and parents to educate the students about drugs and provide the knowledge and skills they need to resist them.
So much, by so few in so short a time is impressive. And what is more, our prevention work is low cost when we think how much each young person is worth, and when $18 spent on treatment of drug users would have only cost $1 if invested in good prevention.
With your support Mentor Lithuania has shown what is possible. However, the challenges still remain if we are to reach more of our young people and address the different needs of groups and individuals effectively.
Allow me to thank all those, many of you here, who have made such achievements possible and who will help us meet the challenges ahead.
The same thanks apply to those involved in Mentor's work within Mentor Latvia and Mentor Estonia. Supported by Mentor International and SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken) both countries have now begun to address their prevention challenges. Working and learning from the Mentor family they are developing their crucial contribution to tackle drug abuse. I wish them every success and will watch their development and growth through the years ahead.
I hope you feel, like me, that there is a real strength in growing Mentor's work at the regional level which greatly increases the number of young people we can reach and help. We now have the 3 Baltic countries working closely with Mentor Sweden as well as Mentor International. They learn from each other and help each other to grow positively and effectively.
I look forward to our evening in these beautiful surroundings and offer my thanks to the artists in anticipation of their performances. I know that such evenings are only possible with a tremendous amount of time and work freely given by so many.
Thank you for attending and for the support you are giving to Mentor and to our young people. Together we can make a difference and help to ensure that our children remain free from the harm drugs can cause and give them the positive and healthy future they deserve.
Enjoy the evening. Thank you.