Monday 1st November 2010, Cheyneygates, Westminster Abbey, London.
For the third year running we were lucky enough to be invited back to Westminster Abbey by the Reverend Dr. Canon Nicholas Sagovsky to host our Bursaries Reception which aims to honour this year’s successful candidates. In 2010 the Bursaries Fund awarded grants to 15 individuals and the event was a wonderful opportunity for them to meet with our supporters, trustees, patrons and staff.
PoC patron Baroness Helena Kennedy kindly came along to open the evening and paid tribute to the courage of all of the grant recipients, many of whom had suffered unimaginable hardship and cruelty. She was hugely impressed and humbled by their stories and said how privileged she felt to be associated with such an inspirational group of people. Baroness Kennedy also thanked all of the people who make the Fund possible through their generosity, many of whom were present at the event. She then had to rush back to an important debate in the House of Lords but expressed how glad she was to be able to give her support to the evening.
Lynn Carter then introduced ‘Arif’ who had received a bursary grant in 2009 for his engineering degree at Heriot Watt University. Arif related his experiences in Sudan and how through his involvement in campaigning for Darfur he was targeted by the government and eventually forced to leave his family and flee the country. He thanked PoC for the bursary grant, without which he would not have been able to complete his studies and rebuild his life. Arif graduated in June and very shortly afterwards was offered a job in the UK.
Next to speak was ‘Patricia’ a journalist from Zimbabwe who was persecuted by the government for writing articles which were critical of their activities. She bravely told the assembled guests how she had been abducted and beaten by government officials and how she lived in constant fear. Once she finally escaped to the UK Patricia explained how she faced a whole new set of difficulties, that of being accepted and overcoming discrimination. She explained how her confidence was knocked by her experiences when she arrived in the UK but how the support of PoC and starting her PhD helped her to regain her self-esteem. She thanked all of the PoC supporters and urged them to continue their generosity to enable more people to benefit as she had done.
Lynn then welcomed back Joab Omondi who received a bursary grant back in 2001 and who now heads up the Geography Department at his school. PoC is now also helping Joab with his PhD in Climate Change. Joab gave special thanks to all of the PoC supporters on behalf of the bursary grant recipients and explained how much difference a grant like this can make to a person’s life and how it can enable them to fully participate in and contribute to society in the UK. Joab graciously explained that the support of PoC restored his faith in the UK’s proud tradition of helping those seeking sanctuary from persecution.