Charity | Posted 22.02.2015


Edmund Page OS, 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 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 was inspired to set up the Xavier Project (named after the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier) when he was a student at St Andrews University 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.

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.