His hard work, dedication, stewardship and selfless acts have not gone unnoticed, as the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) caretaker for St George North West, Ali Dowden has received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award 2016.
The 24 year old has been the first Grenadian to receive the award since its inception in 2014.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Award selects 60 inspiring young persons from every Commonwealth country, marking every year the Queen had served as head of the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee.
Dowden was announced as a 2016 awardee in December 2015 and travelled to Britain in June to officially receive his award from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth herself.
The awardee who spoke with THE NEW TODAY newspaper on his return from the UK, said he was very humbled by the moment.
“I don’t just see the award as an award for Ali Dowden but I see the award as an award for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. For me, it serves as a motivation being recognised by the Queen for the type of work that I do. Obviously, it would boost my confidence and would motivate me to do even more…it’s like a tap on the back saying good job, keep on doing what you’re doing and that came about in the consultation that I had with Her Majesty the Queen as well,” he said.
The young politician was recognised for his service to the Patient Kidney Foundation, the Grenada Cancer Society, Friends of the Mentally ill and most recently, the Help Educate Our Nation (HEON) project, which he co-founded.
“It’s co-founded with a group of young people, like-minded individuals. It’s all about youth empowerment through education. So we seek under-privileged young people coming out of the secondary school system that would like to go unto College, namely TAMCC or a Skills training centre, namely NEWLO.
“There is a vetting process and a selection process and we would choose applicants and we would pay for their tuition, pay for their transportation and we also have a mentorship programme that would help mentor these young students throughout the process so that they wouldn’t fall through the cracks.
Dowden disclosed that the project was launched in January 2015 and by August 21st they were able to give awards to five students – four to TAMCC and one to NEWLO.
He said the London visit was a bittersweet one for him.
He said two sessions held with them requested the presence of the High Commissioners of the different countries.
He said the only High Commissioner who was a no-show on both occasions was Grenada’s Karl Hood.
“At the end of the award ceremony on (the) Thursday we had to meet at the reception at Buckingham Palace, with our High Commissioners and of course all the other High Commissioners were present with the exception of mine and then we had a second opportunity the Friday morning when we met with Baroness Scotland…we had to meet her and also our High Commissioners for the breakfast meeting and of course we met with the High Commissioners from the different countries with the exception of mine,” he said.
According to Dowden, he was not surprised since the award was announced in December, he has not received any recognition from the current administration of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
It is in this light, he believes the absence of Hood from the UK events should be seen as “political victimisation.”
“I would say it’s the attitude from the government because if you look from since the award was announced in December, the government has not recognised me and the award up to this day. There was no statement coming from the Prime Minister, from the Minister of Youth or from the Ministry of Youth or from the government on a whole, they never recognised the award or me.
“…PM and Governor General met with awardees from different countries …I have to say it’s political victimisation based on the side of the fence that I sit on which I feel is a bit unfortunate because at the end of the day, first and foremost I am a Grenadian…the attitude that they meted out to me was very unfortunate.
Dowden concluded that this kind of behaviour on the part of the powers-that-be could result in reluctance on the part of other young people to apply for the award in the future.