BY UHURU KENYATTA
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa last year presented a profound global crisis. It seriously challenged the affected nations and regions, our continent’s and the global community’s capacities and approaches to humanitarian emergencies.
As we speak, there have been more than 8,000 deaths and 20,000 cases of the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
In September last year, the African union held an Emergency Executive Council meeting to define the African stand and response to the plight of our brothers and sisters. At that meeting, Kenya pledged a financial contribution of USD 1,000,000 to assist Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to fight Ebola.
Furthermore, at the 10th Ordinary meeting of the East African Community Sectoral Council of Ministers in October 2014, we committed to contribute a team of 15 medical doctors and 300 other health workers to join the Ebola response in West Africa.
We join several countries which already have professionals working with the affected countries to push back the Ebola outbreak, or which have pledged support. Nigeria, Ethiopia and DRC have contributed about 650 health workers who are actively on the ground as we speak.
You have volunteered to be front-line health workers who will be in constant contact with persons affected by EVD. Your bravery, resolve and nobility of spirit is manifest for all to witness. You have volunteered to tackle the Ebola outbreak boldly and your sacrifice and courage is highly appreciated.
This is a moment of great pride for all Kenyans, for you and for me. I stand before courageous and selfless volunteers who have taken a bold stand to bring the spirit of African solidarity into life and action.
It is a humbling and inspiring thing to know that our country boasts of innumerable committed, compassionate and courageous professionals whose love and empathy literally knows no boundaries. You are the demonstration of the potential Africa holds to overcome its challenges and boldly enter a brave new world of progress, peace and happiness.
You have looked beyond pain, fear and suffering in order to take comfort, healing and assurance to our brothers and sisters in West Africa.
The greatest resource we discovered as a continent is confidence: the confidence in our own ideas, solutions and capacities. You join a roll of distinguished Kenyans who have served their African kin selflessly under daunting circumstances. Our country has made a proud and exemplary name in peacekeeping, diplomacy and voluntary international service in times of crisis.
You take up our flag today to advance our hope as a Nation to lead in achieving more effective diplomacy, deeper African integration, greater solidarity and more productive collaborations among our people, nations and regions.
In this age of African Renaissance, we need to demonstrate in word and deed that we are building the capacity to deliver the Africa We Want.
The overall welfare of every African wherever they are, should be our overriding concern. Every word and resolution must be met with action and delivery.
This is why this event, to flag off the first contingent of 170 dedicated professionals, is so inspiring. I want each one of you to consider the significance of your noble effort in the greater scheme of things, and know that henceforth, you are our ambassadors in West Africa.
For this reason, I ask you to demonstrate our celebrated national tradition. I am confident that you will lead and live work the Kenyan way: innovative, fearless, persistent, selfless, visionary and professional.
As your President, I am very proud of you, and want to extend an inspired nation’s appreciation and gratitude. Remember that you will be representing all 40 million of us in West Africa. Therefore, serve with honour, integrity, tirelessness, selflessness and professionalism at all times.
Take care of your brothers and sisters, and do take care of yourselves.
I thank the African Union and the county governments for the understanding and cooperation in facilitating you to volunteer.
Our stand in this matter has been solid and united: a Nation prepared to heed the cry of our brothers and sisters, and a people ready to answer the call of our time.
I thank you and your families for the sacrifices you have made in volunteering for this assignment, and wish you success and God’s abundant blessings. When we finally have Ebola behind us, your gesture will remain standing as a monument to compassion and hope.
I am, therefore, proud and delighted to hand over our flag to you, and to wish you safe journey, happy service and success.
Thank you, and may God bless you.