‘Best moment of my life’: our Global Youth Ambassadors honoured by Queen

Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu gets his award from the Queen

A World at School’s amazing network of Global Youth Ambassadors spend their days helping others to realise their dreams.

But it was a dream come true for them when five of our GYAs travelled to London to meet the Queen and be honoured at Buckingham Palace.

These exceptional young people each received the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders award for making lasting change in their communities.

The Queen joins the Young Leaders at Buckingham Palace

Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu from Cameroon described the day as “the best moment of my life”.

He added: “It was an emotional experience but I was comforted when the Queen acknowledged the work we do at Hope For Children Cameroon with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

“The journey was never easy but my mum made sure education was the only tool you needed to create change. Be the change you want to see.

Our Global Youth Ambassadors at BT Tower in London

“I am proud to have represented Cameroon and my culture with other amazing youths globally.”

As head of the Commonwealth of Nations, Queen Elizabeth II recognised the work of 60 inspiring young people from 35 countries at a ceremony attended by several members of the British Royal Family, former UK Prime Minister John Major and football icon David Beckham.

Sir John said: “In the 53 countries of the Commonwealth, over half the population – 1.3 billion people out of 2.2 billion – is aged under 30.

“These young people are the future. We need their energy, talent and creativity to respond to new challenges. This award was devised to recognise the good they are doing, to promote their talent, and provide the opportunity for them to reach their full potential. They are all inspiring.”

The visit to the UK included a trip to 10 Downing Street to meet UK Prime Minister David Cameron and a four-day residential development programme.

Here’s a look at the five Global Youth Ambassadors who received the award.

Yaaseen Edoo, 27, from Mauritius

Manchester United fan Yasseen meets David Beckham

Yaaseen is paralysed from the waist down and was never able to attend primary school. He learned to read with the help of newspapers and TV. Yaaseen has used his experience to advocate for schools to better serve others with disabilities and is now a leader member of Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices of Mauritius and travels the world inspiring others to advocate for youth with disabilities and better education for all.

Aswhini Angad, 26, from India

The Queen talks to Ashwini at the reception

Ashwini was born with a visual impairment and brought up in a poor rural community. Facing discrimination, she overcame the odds, achieved great grades and opened a residential school for visually impaired children. Ashwini worked as a national facilitator for Young Voices, a campaign by young people with disabilities initiated by Leonard Cheshire Disability. She has received several awards for her involvement with disabled individuals’ empowerment and was a 2014 Youth Courage Award winner.

Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu, 26, from Cameroon   

Johannes meets former footballer David Beckham

Joannes is the founder of HOPE for Children Cameroon, a community NGO with the aim of educating every child one school and one village at a time. His organisation brings hope to voiceless children, mainly the underprivileged and those living with disabilities by providing them with access to quality education. Since 2011 Joannes’s organisation has sponsored more than 300 children in five schools by providing them with basic school supplies. Over 500 other children have benefited from their back-to-school challenge. Joannes was also a Youth Courage Award winner.

Leroy Phillips, 24, from Guyana

Leroy with his aunt outside 10 Downing Street

Leroy lost his sight when he was seven after a teacher threw the chalkboard eraser at him. Both his family members and classmates called him names like “blind man” and “blind fool”. Only a few of his tests were in Braille and he had to complete the majority of his exams with a scribe and reader. Now he travels the world and is a radio broadcaster, advocating for disability rights in education.

Kavindya Thennakoon, 19, from Sri Lanka

Kavindya works as an adviser on gender equality to the United Nations Youth Advisory Panel while handling the projects department for the Stop the Violence Campaign Sri Lanka. She hosts a television show in her home town and is also involved with the Social Good Summit in engaging Youth within Civic and Political Spheres. Since becoming a GYA, Kavindya has co-founded Without Borders Sri Lanka, delivering a language skills program involving theatre and cinematography to more than 200 children from rural areas and a teaching-training programme.

You can read inspiring blogs by our Global Youth Ambassadors here.

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