Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Lusaka

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy
Lusaka, Zambia
June 11, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me tell you how wonderful it is to see all of you, and I apologize for running so late. Everyone has been incredibly patient, especially the young people who are here. But I am just excited and impressed at what I’ve seen and all the work that I know you’re doing every single day to make this important relationship even stronger.

I want to thank the ambassador and everyone who worked directly on the visit, because I know that in addition to the work you do when someone like me shows up, let alone a conference like AGOA, that takes months and months of work. I saw the AGOA center as I walked into the Embassy, but let me thank you because the conference was absolutely first-rate, compliments everywhere. I don't know if you’ve heard them yourselves, so I will pass them on. It was an extraordinary event, and I want to say thank you for that, as well as the work that is so important.

And in particular, I want to not only thank the ambassador but also DCM Steve Schwartz and I’m very grateful that each and every one of you have made your contribution. I’m trying to talk fast so that I can get a picture with the children – (laughter) – before they express their opinions ever more loudly. (Laughter.) But I have seen the remarkable work that you’re doing.

I was thrilled to announce new funding for the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, which will be based here in Lusaka. (Cheers and Applause.) I was so excited to turn over to the Zambian Government the remarkable pediatric center. And I know that there are 344,000 Zambians on antiretroviral drugs, and that’s because of PEPFAR and CDC and HHS and USAID and everybody who has pulled together. In fact, when PEPFAR held its annual global meeting in Johannesburg, they chose Zambia’s team for the Stepping Up for Women and Girls Award. That’s the first ever team award of that kind, so congratulations. (Applause.)

And Dr. Alwyn Mwinga received the Lifetime Achievement Award, the first time an African has won PEPFAR’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I know she couldn’t be here with us today, at least that’s what I was told, but these awards are a real testament to not only her passion and her commitment but your daily support and hard work.

Now, we’re in the middle of what will be a hard-fought election season here in Zambia and thank you for what you’re doing: helping to train political parties, monitor elections; standing up for democracy, for free, fair, transparent elections that will be credible. We just spent time with the two leading opposition candidates and stressing to them the importance of avoiding intimidation, avoiding violence, but working hard – which we will help – to make sure that the elections are successful.

Thank you also for the second largest Peace Corps program in Africa. (Cheers and Applause.) Now, you’re only two volunteers behind Senegal – (laughter) – and I understand the ambassador feels so strongly about going past – you know it’s the Anglophones versus the Francophones – that he may sign up himself. (Laughter and Applause.)

But it is not only your presence, but Zambia is number one in the world in another statistic: More volunteers choose to extend their time in Zambia than anywhere else in the world. (Applause.) And that says a lot not only about the quality of our volunteers and their commitments, but the warmth of the Zambian people. And I told everyone in the last day and a half that everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve seen smiles, I’ve been warmly welcomed, and I can see why it is so attractive to serve and work here in Zambia.

Now, most importantly perhaps for your working environment is this new Embassy compound. One employee called it a shining city on a hill, but I like to hear how it’s brought our team together so everybody can be mostly in one place. This is also the first LEED-certified building in all of Zambia, and it is an Embassy that represents my commitment and that of the State Department to making our presence more environmentally sustainable.

So here we are on the cutting edge of green building, and I want to congratulate Ellen Bremenstul on winning the Jolly Green Giant Award – (cheers and applause) – it’s funny, you don’t look green – (laughter) – but as the Embassy’s most committed environmentalist.

Well, there is a lot of wonderful work ahead of us here. I think this is a country that is just on the cusp of determining whether it’s going to have the kind of future that is going to fulfill the aspirations of the Zambian people. And we want to do everything to help the people of Zambia move in that direction.

And so finally, let me thank all of our locally employed Zambian staff. (Applause.) I am so grateful to all of you. I know with all due respect, ambassadors come and go, USAID mission directors come and go, and Secretaries of State come and go, but locally engaged staff often are here providing continuity, helping new staff from the States get acclimated so that you can do the very best job possible.

So thank you so very much, and I personally look forward to coming back at some time. I know it’s been 35 years since Henry Kissinger was here, but now I’m glad that we can say that the United States Secretary of State was here to congratulate this first-rate Embassy team.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/T48-13