President Paul Kagame has described philanthropist Howard Graham Buffett chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as unique partner for both Rwanda and the great lakes region.
The president made the remarks while presenting Buffett for the 20th International Quality of Life Award Laureate on Tuesday, December 10, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
While delivering his speech, president kagame said that he was particularly pleased to introduce a remarkable man.
“The award we are celebrating tonight is described as recognition of people and partnerships who have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world,” said Kagame.
The President said that Howard has been a friend to many, including the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa for more than fifteen years; he made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life that should be recognized and respected.
“In particular for Rwanda, he has sought to understand the country and brought in support and perspective that have helped address our particular challenges and bridge our country with our neighbors.”
“From that perspective, Howard has been a unique partner. In fact, during one of his recent visits in Rwanda, I jokingly remarked to him that people like him were either “rare” or “strange” in our region.”
The Head of State said that he said so because over the years “we have welcomed many visitors from foreign governments, academic institutions, international organizations and NGOs. We have formed mutually beneficial partnerships with many of them, which have added value to our pursuit of development and opportunity for our people.
But some of those who come to the region seeking to partner with us, often with good intentions, arrive with preconceived ideas based upon where they come from, what they have heard or read. They tend to believe that they understand the situation better than those they seek to help; thereby making the mistake of being overly prescriptive.”
He however, said that Howard has been different.
“He came to our region with an open mind, ready to listen, learn and share; and not to dictate – and he genuinely used what he learned to inform his actions and investments.”
“Those of you who have followed the history of my country, know that we have often had to swim against the tide. Challenging conventional wisdom has enabled us to overcome adversity as we work towards our national vision.
This situation has taught us to value and appreciate people of conviction who have the courage to do the right thing even when it is considered controversial by others. Howard is one of those people,” remarked the President,” remarked the President
“I also know Howard as a man of action. When he has decided to do something, he makes sure it happens. For example: when we met in August this year, he committed to two things:
Partnering to modernize and develop DRC-Rwanda border post; and supporting Rwanda’s Strategic Capacity Building Initiative to strengthen our government institutions. When Howard returns to Rwanda next week, both these initiatives will be well underway.”
President Kagame also said that another example is Howard’s Africa Great Lakes Peace Initiative that Howard is pursuing. This project which funds specific development projects in eastern DRC will play a significant part in lasting peace and stability that is sought in the DRC and beyond.
“As we, in Rwanda, look back on our journey of recovery and nation building and as we reflect on the core values of dignity and self-determination that guide our efforts; there are organizations and individuals whose partnership and support stand out. Howard’s is one of them.”
He said that by committing his foundation to work itself out of business by 2045, Howard is contributing to a game changing approach in the field of philanthropy. “We believe this is an example that can and should be followed by those who want to create sustainable change.”
As it is said: “At the heart of an IQLA Laureate success lies a true concern for the human condition — an inspiration to all, but particularly to our young people throughout the world.”
The ward which is given by the Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences was awarded to Buffett Foundation CEO for working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations.
The College of Human Sciences established the International Quality of Life Awards in 1994 to recognize people and partnerships that make significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world.