Yes, you read that right! Three Pakistanis – Mahnoor Syed, Haroon Yasin and Hassan Mujtaba Zaidi – were honoured with the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards at the Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday June 26, 2018.
Queen Elizabeth herself presented the three youngsters with medals for their outstanding contributions to the community. The newly wed Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, were also present to greet the winners at the ceremony while former Prime Minister, John Major and football star David Beckham also attended the event.
While addressing the “future leaders” from Commonwealth countries at Buckingham Palace, Prince Harry said, “You are the future leaders who will need to pick up the baton on issues such as climate change, food security, equality and access to education; and, improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
The award is given as a recognition of service by exceptional young members, aged between 18 and 29 years, across the Commonwealth in order to laud these youngsters for using their skills to transform the lives of people in their countries. The three winners from Pakistan had the privilege of participating in a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they collected their award from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In addition, they were provided training, mentoring and networking opportunities during their stay as part of the accolade.
One of the winners from Pakistan, Mahnoor, collaborated with seven schools in Pakistan as part of her start-up, Spread the Word, to organise extracurricular workshops for students on issues relevant to them such as bullying, child abuse, and mental and physical health. Along with Spread the Word, Mahnoor has also collaborated with an organisation called Khwajasira Support to raise funds for the vocational training of 50 transgender persons.
The second winner, Haroon, was awarded for the work of his organisation called Orenda which aims to provide less-privileged children in Pakistan a chance to receive a good education. With the use of technology, Orenda’s award-winning curriculum is taught through cartoons, reinforced through play-based learning and tested by assessments.
The third winner, Hassan, also runs a non-profit called Discovering New Artists (DNA), with the aim of educating marginalised young people in Pakistan. The idea behind DNA is that there is an artist in every child – whether he/she is skilled at painting, sculpting, dancing, engineering, teaching or more – and DNA aims to hone their skills by providing children who cannot afford school fee with free art training, as well as primary and secondary education.
It goes without saying that it is no mean feat to be awarded such a prestigious award at an international level and that too by the Queen of Britain herself. You made us proud Maheen, Haroon and Hassan!
We wish you best of luck for all your future endeavours and hope that more young Pakistanis follow in your footsteps to give back to their country and people and keep us standing tall before the world!
What do you think of their achievements? Tell us in comments!