Queen honours alumnus for African project
A Stonyhurst alumnus who set up a charity in East Africa that helps refugee children get an education has been named as one of the recipients of the Queen's Young Leaders Award 2014.
Edmund Page was given the award in recognition of the achievements of the Xavier Project, which he established to provide educational opportunities to refugees living in urban areas in Kenya and Uganda. The project acts as mentors to the youngsters, funds their schooling and puts them through courses to teach them new skills at its centres in Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya.
The Queen's Young Leaders Programme was set up in honour of the Queen's service to the Commonwealth by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society. It recognises exceptional people aged 18-29, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of the award receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will collect their Award from the Queen. With this support, they are expected to continue and develop the work they are already doing in their communities. Of the 58 recipients from Commonwealth countries in 2014, only three were from the United Kingdom.
Edmund Page (pictured below) comes originally from Gloucestershire. He was a student at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and now lives in Nairobi. He says he was inspired to set up the Xavier Project (named after the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier) when he was a student at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland and undertook volunteering work in Kampala. The charity aims to improve the lives of urban refugees in Kenya and Uganda by enabling them to participate in education. With many children currently out of school in both countries, the charity offers both child sponsorship and adult education opportunities. Xavier Project staff also work with teachers in the schools to help them understand how to deal with the problem of refugees being bullied.
As well as working with schools, the Xavier Project, which has a team of 30 paid staff and volunteers, runs holiday programmes at its centres, where youngsters can study a range of subjects such as sport and drama. It also provides courses for adults such as web design, maths and English. This year, it is aiming to provide more teaching centres in rural town in East Africa as well as setting up its own primary school.
Edmund’s father, Christopher, believes the Award is a wonderful endorsement of the work that the Xavier Project is doing. “He (Edmund) is very keen to emphasise that without the hard work and commitment of his fantastic team on the ground in Africa,” he says, “or without the loyal support and encouragement of his supporters, friends and family in the UK and elsewhere this would never have been possible. He very much hopes that the exposure this will bring will enable the Xavier Project to make their dreams a reality and be a huge benefit to the people they are trying to help.“
The team in Nairobi has recently been taken on as implementing partners for UNHCR in Kenya, which means they have considerably more responsibility, including an extra 300 children to get into education.