IRIS HOUSEI am sorry that Elita and I will not be able to join you this evening. However, the FW de Klerk Foundation will be represented by Dave Steward – and Elita and I shall be with you in spirit.

As you may know, the FW de Klerk Foundation has its own programme to assist disabled and disadvantaged children – primarily here in the Western Cape. We have provided some modest help to a number of excellent organisations – including the Worcester School for the Blind; Studietrust; Autism Western Cape; Woodside Special Care Centre; the Alta du Toit School; the National Institute for the Deaf and the Vista Nova School. We would now like to add Iris House to this list and have asked Dave Steward to present you with a cheque for R20 000.

Our Foundation supports causes such as Iris House because we believe that the stature of any society is not measured by the manner in which it treats its most fortunate members but by the care and compassion that it shows for those who are least fortunate and least able to help themselves. We are particularly impressed by those in our society – such as the staff and care-givers of Iris House – who dedicate themselves to the care and improvement of the lives of children whose prospects are extremely limited.

Institutions like Iris House are helping not only the primary recipients of their care giving – their children. They are also playing an indispensible role in supporting the families of their residents – most of whom simply do not have the resources to provide the specialised 24-hour a day care that Iris House provides.

We also support your work because you are making a very important statement – not with words – but with your caring and compassion – about the kind of society that we would like to create in our beautiful city and country.

So I hope that everyone at this Ball will make an extra special effort to support Iris House’s fund-raising programme. If you have shared in the sorrow experienced by the families of the children for whom Iris House is caring – you will know full well the importance of the work that they are doing – and you will give accordingly. If you are not part of this community – if you are blessed with healthy children – or have watched your children grow to adulthood and produce children of their own – then you should not regard your contribution to Iris House as an ordinary charitable donation – but as a most profound offering of thanksgiving.