(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Your Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Talal, chairman of Mentor Arabia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Preventing harm to children and understanding the development needs of adolescence has been my life’s work. Mentor Arabia was founded in 2006 in response to issues addressed at an Arab and International scientific forum in Dubai two years prior. And it makes me proud to stand here today together with my fellow Mentor colleagues. In our mission to empower youth globally, we are all part of the Mentor family.
It has been 25 years since I founded Mentor International together with members of the World Health Organization. Last night’s festivities and this morning’s meeting serves as a celebration of all that we have accomplished. We are indeed at a milestone - and now is imperative that we not only look back but also to the future. And there are definitely some challenges ahead.
No part of the world is protected from the harm of drugs. Studies issued by the UN, indicate that there are more than 500,000 drug addicts in the Arab world. Other studies have showed that drug use among people aged 15 to 24 is growing in 13 Arab countries. These are alarming numbers – and they clearly show why our presence here is needed.
Mentor’s programs help realize inclusive societies, furthered self-esteem and over all empowerment of young people around the world. We want young people to make wise decisions about their future. But to do that, as we all know, you need to believe that you have a future at all.
This is where Mentor comes into the picture. And I am proud of the positive impact that Mentor Arabia has had on the lives of Lebanese and Arab children youth over the years.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have supported Mentor in its mission. I would like to express my gratitude as well as admiration to the Mentor Arabia advisors, advocates, Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers for their contributions in building stronger and more prosperous societies in the Arab region. In particular I would like to express my gratitude to HRH Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Dr Farida Allaghi and Secretary General Thuraya Ismail for their tireless work in building Mentor Arabia into a strong organization with much impact.
I had a dream 25 years ago that Mentor could make a difference in helping youth to a life free from drugs and harmful behaviours. All of us who are engaged in Mentor share this dream and vision. Looking back, I can see that we have made a difference – and that it was made possible by people like you.
Thank you all for your support. Let us continue to empower even more youth and create a sustainable and strong world that will flourish – for many generations to come.