Luxembourg Embassy Hosts a Fundraiser to Mentor Youth for a Drug-Free Society
By C. Naseer Ahmad
The growing Opioid crisis and drug abuse in USA is ravaging cities as it is devastating families and destroying lives. And, it is a public health problem that recognizes no boundaries. It is a problem that can’t be solved by building walls but building bridges can help face this ugly menace.
Luxembourg is a tiny landlocked country which in modern times is punching above its weight. An example of building bridges and joining hands to solve common problems is a fund-raising event for Mentor Foundation USA hosted in Washington on May 25, 2017 by Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
During her welcoming remarks, Ambassador Lucas mentioned that HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg has enthusiastically supported the cause of mentoring youth in fighting the scourge of drug abuse in society. About the reason for this support for Mentor International, Ambassador Lucas quoted Grand Duke Henri: “Being a father of five, it was for me only natural to engage myself in this organization in order to help fight this plague of the 20th century.”
In his remarks to the supporters of Mentor International, Mr. LaMont Wells, Chairman Mentor Foundation USA said: “For every child we can show that there is an alternative, it helps us all.” He explained the approaches taken by Mentor Foundation USA to teach the youth about talking about their experiences and tell their stories. “These kids are not drug users…and if you hear their stories, it will bring tears to your eyes,” said Mr LaMont.
Ms Gunilla Girardo, President and CEO Mentor Foundation USA, talked about the challenges “young people without a caring adult in their lives,” face very day. Describing the difficult challenges, Ms Girardo mentioned that there are “three million kids who drop out of high school every year and every day 2,400 young people visit the ER (Emergency Room) for drug and alcohol related overdoses.” Ms Girardo then talked about the solutions to this serious problem and mentioned that prevention is the key.
Dr Bob DuPont, Board Member, Mentor Foundation USA and President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., said "Sweden is unique in the world ...because of Sweden's commitment to drug-free life." He explained how Sweden confronted and tackled its problem with drug abuse and discovered what it took to address the societal problem. “It is un-Swedish to use drugs,” said Dr DuPont, who had performed major roles including being the former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse and the former White House Drug Chief.
Mr Thomas A. Werner, who leads Substance Abuse Prevention through education and awareness in Maryland, stated his concern about the disproportionate share of this problem meaning that “US has a small share of the world’s population but it consumes a very large proportion of drug use.”
Structured Finance Industry Group (SFIG), represented by Sairah Burki, Executive Director, was recognized for its strong support and partnership with Mentor Foundation USA for developing and providing “scholarship programs for the young people engaged in the Mentor Foundation’s programs.”
SFIG Foundation recently announced that 11 seniors from three school districts in Washington, DC, New York, and Pennsylvania have been awarded scholarships to assist them in their college education. “These students have expressed interest in a variety of fields including nursing, computer science, law, business, education, psychology and global marketing.”
Iceland's Ambassador Mr Geir H. Haarde, a former Prime Minister of Iceland, as well as Swedish Deputy Chief of Mission, and several diplomats along with business leaders and friends of Luxembourg attended this serious public health issue.
HM Queen Silvia of Sweden is a Royal Trustee of Mentor International and has launched this initiative. She is of the belief that to “lose hope, particularly when you are young and have your life ahead of you, is a terrible destiny.” Her leadership has led to the creation of a network dedicated to mentoring at-risk youth.
As part of this network, Mentor Arabia advocates in the 22 member countries of the Arab League “for drug prevention and promoting the health and well-being of children and young people in the Arab world as well as establishing a culture of drug prevention.” A Mentor Pakistan would be a great idea to give hope and help to at risk youth fight the problem of drug and substance abuse.
Last year, the Swedish Ambassador in Washington hosted Mentor Foundation USA’s charity event. Dr Lonise Bias, mother of the famous basketball player Len Bias who died at age 22 due to drug overdose, gave a heart-breaking account of losing two sons to this plague.
The Luxembourg Embassy is one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington. Ambassador Lucas assisted by Ms Elisabeth Herndler and the Embassy staff added to the beauty of their country by supporting a noble cause and building bridges diplomatically. The Embassy Chef treated the guests and supporters of Mentor Foundation USA to a sumptuous buffet featuring Luxembourg cuisine.