By Farah Adan
A youth from Garissa is among three Kenyans awarded by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on Monday June 22, 2015 for their exemplary service to the community.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Award Programme discovers, celebrates and supports exceptional young people from across the commonwealth, leaving a lasting legacy for Her Majesty the Queen.
The high profile event has been a turning point for the Kenyan youth who have been working to change the lives of the communities they work in. Abdikadir Aden Hassan, HSC from Garissa County, Samuel Kiruita from Nyeri County and Caren Odanga from Busia County were the Kenyans who were honored.
The trio were among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth who have been recognized as exceptional leaders in their communities and are among the first ever to receive a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award.
As part of the awards programme, the three are also attending a residential week which is meant to shape their leadership giving them an opportunity to interact with government officials, large business community, corporates and Non-Governmental Organizations. All these are meant to give them a platform to excel and establish networks that will support their work when they come back home.
The award winners met members of the Royal family such as Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, the Duke of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Sir John Major (Former UK Prime Minister), Rob Brydon, Duncan Bannatyne and John Bishop as well as football legend David Beckham.
The Kenyan embassy has received the youth in the UK was overseeing their activities.
“These youth have made us proud and they have represented Kenya so well. It was such an honour to see young leaders with such inspirations and how they have transformed lives of their communities”, said H.E Amb. Lazarus Amayo, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UK.
Garissa County’s Abdikadir Aden could not hide his joy at receiving the award and meeting the Queen.
“It was such a great honour to have met Her Majesty the Queen. Not everybody gets into Buckingham Palace and meets the Queen. I felt that the Queen is attached to our beautiful country Kenya”, said Abdikadir who has been in the frontline advocating for a sustainable environment in the drought hit region.
The 27 years old has been selected in recognition of his work to champion climate change in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya.
Samuel, 27, has been acknowledged for his efforts in peace while Caren, 21, was selected in recognition of her initiative to support and educate women in rural Kenya.
Mr. Samuel has urged the youth to take part in peace and unity process.
The youth were also given the opportunity to interact with the British Prime Minister David Cameroon at Downing Street.
“Meeting the UK PM was such an opportunity. I have personally invited him to Kenya and he has confirmed that he will be coming somewhere next year”, says Abdikadir.
Other activities that they will be undertaking while in London include; Visit to social media giant twitter’s headquarters, visit to the BBC World Service, Cambridge University, Commonwealth Secretariat among other activities.
The activities excited the youth who felt more honored abroad than at home.
“We are really honored for this amazing opportunity, we have not had the platform to meet The Government of Kenya or heard from them, but we are hoping that we will meet our President and be working together to move the youth agenda in our motherland forward”, says Caren.
(Photo 1: Abdikadir plants a tree at Young Muslim Academy during the World Environment Day, 5th June, 2015
(Photo 2From left, Abdikadir Aden, Amb. Lazarus Amayo, Caren Odanga and Samuel Kiruita with their awards)