P Schneck Macau opening 2006


Peter Schneck, IBBY President 2002-2006


Dear Madame Florinda Chen,

Ladies and Gentleman,

Dear IBBY Friends,

We came to Macau with high expectations. As we leave they have been exceeded. We are overwhelmed by the kindness of the Macau people who did their best to make our congress a further landmark in the sequence of IBBY’s progress. We are grateful for all the efforts CBBY, IBBY’s Chinese section, has undertaken to make this congress successful.

We found a perfect place to meet, to share our ideas, to learn and develop further strategies. The magnificent Children’s Forum gave us confidence that a future generation might not repeat the failures of their forebears.

The IBBY General Assembly met yesterday and elected a new IBBY Executive Committee, a new president of the Hans Christian Andersen Jury and a new IBBY President.

I now invite the members of the IBBY Executive Committee 2004 to 2006 Ms. Patricia Aldana, from Canada, Ms. Shahaneem Hanoum from Malaysia, Mr. Huang Jianbin from China, Ms. Mari Jose Olaziregi from Spain, Ms. Ann Lazim from the United Kingdom, Ms. Elda Nogueira from Brazil, Ms. Anne Pellowski from the United States, Mr. Vagn Plenge from Denmark, Ms. Chieko Suemori from Japan, Ms. Jant van der Weg-Laverman from the Netherlands, and also Mr. Jeff Garrett, President of the Hans Christian Andersen Jury to come to the stage to receive a token of thanks for their two years of intense voluntary work. I also thank IBBY’s Treasurer, Mr. Urs Breitenstein and want to give special recognition to IBBY’s Administrative Director, Ms. Liz Page, who has given so much support during my presidentship especially for her extraordinary efforts in preparing for this congress.

As a reminder of this fruitful joint achievement I am pleased to present to CBBY a print by the Hans Christian Andersen Award Winner Kveta Pacovska, which was published in a limited edition of 99. I ask Mr. Hai Fei, President of CBBY, to receive it as a gesture of thanks to him and his wonderful team.

I thank all the participants, all the many voluntary and professional helpers in Macau, mainland China, Basel and worldwide, the generous sponsors and the supporting institutions. I convey our gratitude to the Macau Special Administrative Region Government for inviting us for this Closing Ceremony.

I am proud to present the newly elected IBBY President, Ms. Patricia Aldana, publisher from Toronto, Canada. Patsy, I ask you now to address the audience and to present the IBBY Executive Committee 2006 to 2008.

I am delighted that my final acting as IBBY President is to highlight the merits of three extraordinary contributors to IBBY’s work. IBBY’s Honorary Membership is given to persons, who have to devoted much of their lives to books for the young and the part they play in promoting international understanding. In 2006 two Honorary Memberships were conferred. Ms. Miep Diekmann from the Netherlands and Ms. Somboon Singakamanan from Thailand. Ms. Diekmann was unable to travel to Macau to receive her diploma at the congress, but I feel honoured to have the chance to confer IBBY Honorary Membership on Ms. Somboon Singakamanan here this evening.

After her university training in education in Thailand and further special training in children’s literature and librarianship in Wales, Mrs. Singkamanan has been active in children’s literature related projects in Thailand since 1971. In 1989, her Portable Library Project won the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. Amongst her many activities she has had a research fellowship at the International Youth Library in Munich, has published picture books in Thai, served as the Secretary General of Thai IBBY from its establishment in 1982 to 2000 and was a member of the IBBY Executive Committee from 1990 to 1992. Even though she is now retired, she is still a member of the Basic Education Office in the Phathalung Area of the Thai Ministry of Education.

Mrs. Singakamanan, in recognition of your lasting contribution and your exemplary example in the whole region, I am proud present you with IBBY Honorary Membership.

The Jella Lepman Medal is named after the founder of IBBY and was first awarded in 1991 in celebration of the centennial of her birth. At that time it was given to four persons – most of them founders of IBBY – and six institutions that had made lasting contributions to children’s literature. Last year the IBBY Executive Committee decided to reinstate this specific award of recognition as a permanent institution. Two of the newly chosen recipients are with us today, and we wish to honour them during this closing ceremony. I am delighted to welcome Mr. Vincent Frank-Steiner from Basel, Switzerland, and Mr. Hideo Yamada, President of the Yamada Bee Farm Company, from the Okayama Prefecture in Japan.

Mr. Frank-Steiner is neither an expert nor a professional on children’s books. His professional career focused on economics: he worked in business, for the Swiss Government, as a newspaper editor, and as a financial adviser to the city of Basel. Now retired, he divides his time between freelance financial advice and his interest in historical research with special interest in the holocaust and his family history. He was also President of the Anne Frank Fund in Basel for several years. In fact it was a children’s book that brought him into contact with IBBY. Der Junge, der seinen Geburtstag vergaß (The boy who forgot his birthday) was written by his father, the well-known theatre director Rudolf Frank. IBBY’s former Treasurer Christian Stottele was at that time the publisher of the book and he asked Mr Frank-Steiner to act as IBBY’s financial adviser. Since then he has successfully invested IBBY’s reserves and helped to set up the IBBY Foundation, where he is now a member of the board. NGO’s are usually lacking money and with limited resources cultural activities need solid financial planning! We value his support and advice and are pleased to be able to honour his contribution with this formal acknowledgement.

Mr. Hideo Yamada produces honey and honey products and sells them all over Japan. I had the chance to meet him at his bee farm in Kagamino, at the same place where his father started his bee culture with a few beehives in 1948. I was deeply impressed by his social attitude to his employees, to the town of Kagamino, and to society in Japan as well as overseas. The Yamada Bee Farm shows a dedicated commitment not only to environmental protection, but also to projects related to children. Mr. Yamada supported the IBBY Jubilee Congress in 2002, and the Book Flood project in connection with the IBBY Congress in 2004 focussing on taking children’s books to schools in South Africa. When IBBY appealed for help after the devastation following the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Mr. Yamada became a generous and major sponsor. IBBY’s projects in Indonesia, including the creation of the IBBY Motorbike Libraries, in India, in the Maldives and in Thailand have been successfully completed. But the most extraordinary help for the children of the world was when Mr. Yamada gave a remarkable contribution to the IBBY Foundation. The IBBY-Yamada Fund has made it possible for us to support projects worldwide that bring books and children together. As a continuation of the commitment to Africa after the 2004 Cape Town Congress, the IBBY-Yamada Fund supported the workshop project in Rwanda under the title Enrichment of Cultural Development; Bringing Children’s Literature Books to the Classroom, and the virtual exhibition Books from Africa–Books for Africa. The IBBY EC will select more projects from proposals submitted by the National Sections that will be supported in 2007 by the IBBY-Yamada Fund.

It is now my time to step down as President of IBBY and I am especially happy that IBBY has been given this extraordinary chance to give support wherever it is needed during my presidency. It is with great honour that as a climax of my term of office I have the chance to convey IBBY’s recognition personally to Mr. Yamada.

I now invite Ms. Murti Bunanta, of IBBY Indonesia, as representative of the Tsunami-related projects, and Ms. Agnes Gyr-Ukunda, of IBBY Rwanda, for the African projects to assist me in presenting the Jella Lepman Medals to Mr. Yamada and Mr. Frank-Steiner. Mr Yamada also receives a watercolour of the IBBY workshop in Kigali, Rwanda painted by Dominique Mwankumi, an illustrator from Congo who participated as an expert in illustration at the workshop, as well as an example of the reading rucksack that was distributed to the participants.

It was a pleasure to collaborate with all of you. Thank you.

Peter Schneck