Putting children and youth at the heart of development
The Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship was created in memory of British government worker Rebecca Dykes. Prior to her death, Rebecca had worked as a programme and policy manager for the UK’s Department for International Development in Lebanon, working to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable host communities throughout the country. The new scholarship, named in her honour, will be granted each year to a female Lebanese or Palestinian residing in Lebanon to pursue her master’s degree in the UK. The scholar will study a subject related to Rebecca’s work, such as gender studies, peace and conflict studies, and development.
The first recipient of the scholarship is Joelle Badran (2018, Lebanon), who will be studying for an MSc in Children, Youth and International Development at Birkbeck, University of London. We caught up with her to find out what this award means to her, and how it will equip her in her further humanitarian efforts.
Why is focusing on children/youth important to international development?
There are millions of children and youth all over the world who are unable to reach their full potential. They are unable to access their rights, due to their families’ income status, geographic location, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. It is their right to develop as well as to survive, and it is our role as humanitarians and aid workers to provide them with a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
Rebecca Dykes worked to support Syrian and Palestinian refugees, and the Lebanese communities hosting them. What does winning this award mean to you?
Being the first recipient of Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship is a deep honour for me. Rebecca was a dedicated humanitarian who wanted to contribute something positive to the world. I highly admire how her family, friends, and colleagues turned the tragedy of her death to a positive initiative through a foundation that aims to continue the work that Rebecca cared about so deeply.
In terms of your career goals, what do you hope to achieve when you return to Lebanon? How will your Chevening Award help you do this?
Children and young people in Lebanon are highly affected by the impact of the political and economic situations in the country. They are increasingly exposed to violation and violence at home, in their community, and at school, resulting in physical, psychological, and emotional harm. When I return to Lebanon, I am planning to work on projects that address the needs of this marginalised population, combining my learnings with my professional experience in order to respond to the huge need for development projects in the country.
Receiving a Chevening Award is a great opportunity for me to improve my technical knowledge and skills. I believe that this MSc will help me understand the key issues in the development sector, particularly related to children and youth, and hopefully design sustainable projects that respond to the fundamental needs of the society.
The application cycle for 2019/2020 scholarships is open. What advice would you give to those thinking about applying?
Be yourself, prepare well, and show passion and self-confidence!