My name is Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva. I am the Prime Minister of Tonga and the first to be elected by the people. Tonga is now a democratic country.
Firstly, I offer my most humble and sincere apology for not being able to attend your prestigious Convention due to clashes in my itinerary, which unfortunately, could not be avoided.
What I can offer you though, is a message of hope, encouragement and support from the Kingdom of Tonga. I thank the Almighty God for bringing us safely from all corners of the world to attend the Convention. I pray and ask that the Good Lord inspires all participants of this Convention with intelligence, knowledge and wisdom so you can freely engage in meaningful dialogues and constructive discussions to promote the interests and welfare of those suffering from Cerebral Palsy, which I will refer to from now on as C-P.
This prestigious dinner is held tonight to commemorate the anniversary of the sad loss of Mr Mitra’s only son, Abbishek who suffered from C-P, and would have survived if knowledge and technology on C-P were up-to-date as it is now. May he rest in peace!! Abbishek would be immensely proud of the work you are all doing for C-P and would be asking you for a more determined and continuing effort to ensure that the C-P sufferers enjoy a quality life as you and I do. Please rise and acknowledge Abbishek by clapping hands.
I also applaud and commend highly the Bishwa Bandhan Foundation of Cerebral Palsy (India) for hosting this Convention and bringing together leaders and ambassadors from the 251 member countries throughout the world, hundreds of eminent medical experts, professionals and administrators in C-P together, for discussion and enlightenment that may provide more understanding of this disorder so that possible solutions could be generated.
It is indeed a great honor to have been invited as the Guest of Honor and Speaker of this most important occasion, although in absentia. I look forward to learn more about C-P from the expert presentations to follow and its application to my home country. Please send me a copy of the “Proceedings of the Convention” with all the speeches and papers. It will be widely available to the medical people and those involved with C-P in Tonga. I hope that at the end of this Convention, Tonga would become the 252nd member country of your prestigious Foundation because it can learn a lot from the knowledgeable, eminent and distinguished personnel who are working with the Foundation.
Firstly, I thank Mr GOUTAM MITRA, the Founder & President of the Bishwa Bandhan Foundation (India) for Cerebral Palsy.
- Mr Mitra has dedicated his life, effort and time in taking on the challenges of C-P. He is also the chairman of a Swiss company based in Zurich. His only son, Abbishek, was a victim of Cerebral Palsy, and I pray that he rests in peace. Through his continuing dedication, the sufferers of C-P will enjoy a quality life.
- Mr Mitra has also set up the Foundation as its core center to provide more information on C-P through its comprehensive database, its research and developmental unit and its 252 member countries throughout the world, as well as providing an International platform for its members to hold regular dialogues, exchange ideas and opinions freely to provide possible solutions for the victims of C-P, their families and supporters so they can enjoy life.
I would also like to commend these people for their huge support, encouragement and contribution towards the Foundation and its President. They include;
- His Excellency, SHRI M.K.NARAYANAN, Honorable Governor of West Bengal, INDIA
- The Governments and people of India and Switzerland
- The Leaders and Ambassadors of the 252 member countries.
- Mr KUMAR SANU, Trustee & Brand Ambassador.
Kumar is a renowned singer in India and the Convention may be privileged to hear his talented voice later.
- Ms DENISE STUCKI, Trustee Member and Secretary.
Denise is proficient in six languages and is a teacher by profession. She is the heart and engine of the Foundation.
- And last but not least, the MEDICAL DOCTORS, EXPERT PROFESSIONALS, ADMINISTRATORS, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
Your work and contribution towards a better environment and a brighter future for C-P sufferers is highly commended and appreciated by the International communities of C-P. I urge you to continue with your role as it is significant for the advancement and understanding of C-P.
In conclusion tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I want to re-iterate my gratitude, appreciation and commendation to Mr Goutam Mitra.
Your Foundation has done an excellent job to raise awareness on C-P world-wide through the large country membership, the comprehensive database you have created, the famous research and development unit you have set up within the Foundation, and the International platform you have provided to allow for free exchange of ideas and opinions between member countries so they could focus on generating new ideas and technological advancements that will help the C-P sufferers and their care givers, enjoy a better quality of life.
On behalf of the thousands of C-P sufferers throughout the world, I thank you profusely Mr Mitra for your unselfish, committed and conscientious work. May you continue to be inspired, stay resolute and determined to help those with C-P enjoy a better quality life.
I also have a message for the leaders and ambassadors of the 252 member countries who are here at the Dinner to-night. Let us work together with the Bishwa Bandhan Foundation for Cerebral Palsy to create a better world for the thousands of C-P sufferers throughout the world, so they can have every chance of improving and enjoying a better quality of life.
May God bless us all and guide you towards a happy and a successful Convention.
C-P is not prevalent in Tonga and is categorized with other disabilities at 3 to 5%. A survey in 2011 identified low incidence of C-P in the Kingdom but work is needed to accurately establish its incidence and provide the necessary services of care and support.
But quickly, for those who wonder where Tonga is, its latitude and longitude is 20°South and 175° West of the Equator, respectively. We are in the South Pacific, located about 2000 kilometers (kms) north east of Auckland, New Zealand. It is the only Kingdom in the Pacific and the only island not to have been colonized.
There are 170 islands which are mostly atoll and only 40 are inhabited by 106,000 people, with the same number living abroad. Tonga’s total land mass is 760 square kms with a vast ocean of 770, 000 square kms.
Tonga is in its first year of a four year term. It has a full program of projects, aimed at economic recovery and stability. It relies on overseas aid and remittance to bolster its budget. Tonga’s main sources of income come from Tourism, Agriculture and Fisheries and exporting our human capability through sports, fruit pickers, electricians and other trade people.
We welcome tourists to come to Tonga, enjoy the lovely climate, see the varied tourist attractions and watch and swim with the whales if you are super-keen.
I wish you all the best with the Convention. May the Almighty God take you back safely to your country of residence at the end of the Convention.
I thank you kindly,
Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva
Prime Minister of the Friendly Islands of Tonga