Global perspective Human stories

Ban inspired by Zambian youth's commitment to democracy and education

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) holds press conference in Zambia.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) holds press conference in Zambia.

Ban inspired by Zambian youth's commitment to democracy and education

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today concluded his first visit to Zambia saying he left the country convinced that it has a bright future, especially because of the commitment of the younger generation to democratic principles, human rights and education.

“Today in Livingstone, I had very impressive and inspiring meeting with young girl students and boy students,” Mr. Ban told reporters at the airport before leaving Zambia for Angola.

“I was very much impressed by the way they are committed, how much they know about democratic principles and particularly human rights.

“On that basis, from their question and points of view I was convinced that this country has a brighter future, not only because you are having a lot of mineral and natural resources, but you have also very good human resources in my observation,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr. Ban and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge jointly visited sport for development projects in Zambia to call attention to the value of combining athletics and learning for youth.

“I have seen from your faces the future, the bright future, of Zambia,” he told children, many of them homeless or orphaned, who receive shelter and training at the Fountain of Hope, a drop-in centre run by International Inspiration in partnership with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Government of Zambia and civil society groups.

The youth at the centre, he said, were “scoring real victories by staying healthy, growing strong and learning life skills.”

The Secretary-General said nothing is more important than investing in a country's children. “A country that ignores or neglects its children destroys its own potential. A country that cares for and nurtures its children will definitely be strong.”

Sixteen-year-old Ben Mwila shared his experience of going from the streets of Lusaka to the Fountain of Hope, praising the organization for passing on life skills to participants. He said his dream is to become a doctor so he can help others in the future.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Rogge toured different areas at the Fountain of Hope where children and teens played energetically while sharing information on life skills, such as how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS infection.

They toured an Olympic Youth Development Centre, where Mr. Ban said the UN and IOC partnership is based on the shared values of non-discrimination, sustainability, universality, solidarity, fair play and mutual respect.

Mr. Ban praised the Centre for going “beyond promoting excellence in sport” by helping to educate young people. “Centres such as this can help in providing the facilities and support that young people and under-served communities need to develop much-needed self-esteem, knowledge and skills for the future we want,” he said.

The Secretary-General and the IOC President also unveiled a plaque marking the construction of a 52-room hotel for visiting athletes.