CARE 70th Anniversary Exhibit
Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
Thursday, May 12, 2016
I am really happy to be here with all of you today. If I may I’d like to read you a short passage from one of the letters that CARE recently asked former World War II refugees to write to Syrian refugee children:
“Hello Zaher: Seventy years ago, when I was 8 years old like you, I was also a refugee. I’m writing to share my story with you to let you know that, no matter how bad things may seem, there are good people in this world who can make everything better.”
Gunter Nitsch, who wrote this letter, speaks from experience. He is one of the original CARE Package recipients. Like Zaher, a young boy who fled Syria with his family, Gunter knows firsthand the meaning of solidarity. His letter is what CARE has always been about – a beacon of hope, a rare and precious moment of humanity in the lives of people who so desperately need it.
Thank you, Ambassador Sørensen, for hosting us today and for giving a temporary home to this wonderful exhibit that celebrates CARE’s 70th anniversary and showcases major moments in the history of humanitarian aid.
Thank you also to Ralph Martens, Chair of the CARE International board, for your steadfast commitment to the organization. CARE has evolved over the years, constantly expanding the scope of its services and the places in which it operates.
Back in the early 1980s, CARE started to focus on ways to improve the status of women, so it is no wonder that CARE was one of the first NGOs to join the Geneva Gender Champions network, and I’d like to thank the Secretary General and CEO of CARE International, Dr. Wolfgang Jamann, for his leadership of the organization and his efforts to promote gender equality.
Today, CARE is very different from what was created in the aftermath of World War II, when 22 American organizations came together to provide lifesaving CARE packages to survivors of the war.
It now works in areas as diverse as education, agriculture, and health. For 70 years, CARE has been sending gifts of food, warmth and shelter to people affected by disasters and emergencies, and those displaced by conflict and war all over the world, and it has always kept the dignity of people like Gunter, Zaher and countless others at the heart of its vision.
And that is something that Europeans and Americans hold dear – that’s what makes us close friends.
Because, as President Obama said in Germany just two weeks ago, “we share so much experience and so many of the same values…that we believe in the equality and inherent dignity of every human being.”
I can’t help but think of all the families torn apart by the many conflicts around the world today. So we need that friendship now more than ever. In fact, all of us – in Europe, in the U.S., and around the world – must meet this challenge together.
And to do that, we need organizations like CARE to continue to send families the help they need to protect their dignity and start to rebuild their lives.
After all these years, Gunter still remembers the day he opened his first CARE Package. There was a can of fruit salad in it and he referred to it as “the kind of food the angels ate in heaven.”
To a hungry little boy, it must have tasted pretty darn good! But there was more than just fruit salad in that cardboard box – there was hope, as he told Zaher, that no matter how bad things may seem, there are good people in this world who can help make things better.
Happy 70th anniversary, CARE! May you continue to bring hope and make things better for many, many years to come.