SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY MRS. LUCY KIBAKI, THE FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE FUNDRAISING CEREMONY IN SUPPORT OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SECOND PHASE OF THE MOTHERS UNION GIRLS HOSTEL, THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF KENYA, MOMBASA DIOCESE, MOMBASA, APRIL 14 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to join you this afternoon and to preside over this fundraising in support of the construction of the second phase of the Mothers Union Girls Hostel. Allow me at the very outset to convey my apologies to you all for having had to postpone this event until today. It has been my sincere desire to officiate this event at the earliest opportunity available, which has not been possible until now.

In spite of the delay, I wish to assure you all that I fully support the efforts of the Mothers Union of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Mombasa, in promoting the welfare of girls in our society. Indeed, as a mother and as a Christian, one of my key commitments is to promote the welfare of the girl child.

It is, therefore, my special joy today to join the Mothers Union of this Church in raising funds to construct the second phase of the Mothers Union Girls Hostel. I note with much appreciation that once the project is complete, girls from all over the country will have a secure environment where they can reside while studying in various colleges here in Mombasa.

I thank the Bishop, the Mothers Union and the entire congregation of the A.C.K., Diocese of Mombasa, for this effort, which will take us a step further in addressing the welfare of girls. I challenge Mothers Unions in other Churches across the country to emulate this example by initiating various projects that will ensure the well being of girls in our society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are all aware, we are, as members of the Church, called upon to be the salt and the light of the earth. In this regard, Christ set an example for us by not only preaching to his followers but also by attending to all their needs. He fed them when they were hungry; treated them when they were sick and spoke out against the social injustices of the time. Following on this example, the Church has a duty not only of serving people spiritually through conversion to the faith, but also addressing the social, economic and political challenges that they face.

I wish to commend the Anglican Church of Kenya for embracing this holistic mission of the Church. Indeed, I am glad to note that since the time of Dr. Ludwing Krapf in 1844, the Anglican Church has maintained the noble tradition of ministering to various needs of communities. I note with gratitude that the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Mombasa , today offers a wide range of services to the local community.

These include poverty alleviation projects, healthcare services, food security programs as well as the provision of school bursaries to needy children. I am particularly encouraged to note that the Diocese has so far spent 10 million Kenya Shillings on bursaries in the last five years. These efforts have gone a long way in promoting the welfare of the local community.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this occasion, I would like to appeal to all Churches in the country not to limit their ministry to evangelism and discipleship. I urge Churches to also actively seek to minister to the economic, social and political needs of our people. Indeed, in view of the direct contact that churches have with local communities, they are strategically placed and have a great opportunity to address community needs.

I wish, in particular, to appeal to Churches to re-double their efforts in empowering vulnerable groups in society especially girls. In empowering girls, we must bear in mind that the end result will not only be the well being of individual girls, but also their families, their communities and indeed the country as a whole. We must, therefore, join hands in addressing the challenges facing girls in our society.

In this connection, I wish to point out the need for the Church in this region to step up measures to protect young girls from sexual exploitation. It is saddening to note that the incidence of child prostitution and sex tourism remain high in this region. These vices involve girls many of whom are too young to know the dangers of sexual immorality. Unless urgent action is taken, the lives of these girls will be ruined or lost altogether. I appeal to the Churches in this region to address this challenge as a matter of priority.

I call upon parents, hoteliers, the police and individual members of society to also come out strongly in fighting this problem. The Government has provided an appropriate legal framework for protecting children from sexual abuse through the Sexual Offences Act. While the Government continues with the process of drafting a new policy to protect children from prostitution in tourism, we must all take full advantage of the Sexual Offences Act in order to protect our children from sexual abuse and possible loss of life.

In addition to this, local Churches and all members of local communities should take proactive action to address the high incidence of child labour in this region. Child labour is immoral as it compromises the physical, psychological, social and moral development of children. It also deprives children the opportunity for schooling. I urge the evangelical community in this region to join hands with parents in curbing child labour and ensuring that all children benefit from the Free Primary Education Program.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is important to remember that God called the Church not to minister to its members only, but to also reach out and minister to needy people outside the church. I, therefore, appeal to Church members to reach out to needy people in our society and provide them with the necessary spiritual, material and moral support.

In so doing, I appeal to Churches not to limit their outreach work to financial and material assistance to the needy. There is need for Churches to make deliberate efforts to mobilize communities to take action to solve problems that affect them. Indeed, since the local Church is part of the community, it should embark on community mobilization programs aimed at enabling people to identify their problems as well as work out and implement solutions.

In conclusion, I wish to call upon Churches and other religious organizations to play a more active role in politics. We must all remember that citizens who belong to various religious groups are also members of the secular society. Religious leaders and believers in general must, therefore, also involve themselves in the political issues of our society ­ because this is their right and responsibility as citizens.

As we approach the general election in particular, I appeal to religious leaders to promote principled political leadership by defending the truth, fighting tribalism as well as negative propaganda that can mislead our people or generate hatred. Religious leaders also have a duty to provide guidance that will enable the people to elect men and women of moral integrity into public offices. As witnesses to the integrity of Christ and His gospel, I urge religious leaders to remain above partisan affiliations and instead uphold scriptural teachings.

With these remarks, I wish to urge all of us present to donate generously towards the construction of the second phase of the Mothers Union Girls Hostel and the Girls Friendly Society Offices.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.