A University of Plymouth graduate and academic who has been devoted to helping vulnerable and traumatised children in South Africa for the last 15 years has been awarded a medal in the Queen’s Honours list.
Harrison Dax Nash, Honorary Lecturer in Social Work, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the children of South Africa, presented by the country’s British High Commissioner, HE Anthony Phillipson.
Since his first trip to South Africa in 2007, Harrison has been involved in a variety of projects and has made a direct impact on the lives of many children through the Maranatha Streetworkers Trust.
Harrison has been using all of his skills and expertise to lead developmental, recreational, therapeutic and caring services for the youngsters on behalf of the Trust. There are around 32 children, aged between five and 19, at Siyakatala, the residential youth centre in Port Elizabeth where Harrison is part of the management team. Many of the children have been removed from their homes for their own safety; others have been orphaned or were found begging on the streets.
Harrison then established Maranatha Care Children in the first year of his degree – a UK-based charity that aims to help South African children by offering development in education, life skills, and suitable home environments while safeguarding the future of those in care. This was with a primary focus to assist with fundraising efforts to open doors for such young people in care, especially when it comes to education.
Speaking about this award, Harrison said:
"I first visited South Africa when I was 18 years old, having naively seen about the hardship in Africa and just wanting to do something to help. I decided it was the right time to visit before university in order to do something worthwhile. My first experience in South Africa made me realise very quickly that I wanted to make a bigger difference than just one visit. This was often the status quo of a gap year and I just felt that there was a calling for me to ‘do more’.