USP student, Luisa Tuilau, receiving her award from Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II.
A student of The University of the South Pacific (USP) is back in Fiji after being honoured with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace on June 23 2016.
Tailevu lass Luisa Tuilau was among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth chosen to receive this award for her exceptional work in the community.
Tuilau, who is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and Law, is a member of the Youngsolwarans, a group of youths in the Pacific that advocate against extractive industries like seabed mining, climate change and social justice issues including the freedom of the people of West Papua.
Upon returning from her trip, Tuilau said the award meant that the Queen recognises the seriousness of their work.
“That for me was enough to let those around us know that there is a dysfunction in our community and that we must address it urgently. The Queen appreciates the work that youths are engaging themselves in making this world a better place to live,” she mentioned.
Luisa explained that the Queen empowered the awardees to do more in their communities.
“I cannot fully describe my feelings as I walked up to greet and receive the award but I can say that I do feel empowered and motivated to continue addressing human rights issues such as the atrocities in West Papua,” she said.
She said the residential programme gave her an opportunity to share the work that Youngsolwarans are doing in the Pacific as they are the voices of elders and youth in the community.
“We are here to shape a future that is sustainable for us. Youth involvement is essential in breaking barriers and finding solutions that are relevant in Pasifika,” she emphasised.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of youth participation in addressing climate change, gender inequality, trade and our forefront urgent issue, the freedom of West Papuans. We must work collectively if a better future is what we want to achieve.”
She added that a better future means a better educational system, working environment, jobs, and a better society where “all can fully participate in the governing of the country, where there is inclusivity and accountability and nothing less.”
“Overall I am thankful for being given this opportunity to share with my counterparts around the Commonwealth, some of the issues in our Pacific region and the work that youths are doing in addressing them,” she noted.
Other recipients from the Pacific include Australia, New Zealand, Kiribati, Nauru, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
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