Dalai Lama honours Newham teen at Royal Albert Hall
15:00 05 July 2012
A Newham teenager who overcame the murder of his cousin to promote peace was honoured by The Dalai Lama in front of thousands on Wednesday.
Tragically, Voltaire Taiwo de Campos’s cousin, Ailton Campos de Oliveira was stabbed to death aged 16 by a gang of youths in Denbigh Road, East Ham on July 4 2010.
But Voltaire, 16, overcame his family’s tragedy to transform the lives of his peers as a young mentor and role model through his involvement with Community Links, a charity based in Canning Town, and Think Big Theatre, a social enterprise promoting community cohesion.
As part of his 10 day tour of Britain, His Holiness The Dalai Lama presented a Youth Compassion Award to Voltaire in front of 6,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall, in Kensington.
The Dalai Lama said: “This young boy is just 16, but already taller than me so you’re warm-heartedness equally should be very strong and tall, that’s important. Thank you.”
On receiving the award, Voltaire said: “At the time Ailton died it was hard. I was very angry and had a lot of negative thoughts.
“I transferred that into positive energy and worked hard for peace.
“Finding out I’d receive the award from the Dalai Lama was a real honour. A lot of people spend their whole lives trying to meet him.
“I’m so honoured and proud to receive this award from such an inspirational man as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I’m only 16 and yet I know that his moment will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
In September, Voltaire also became a core member of local youth-led organisation The Young Stars who support young people to reject violence and postcode conflict.
Anna Whatley, found of Think Big and a project co-ordinator at Community Links, nominated Voltaire for the award.
She said: “It was an incredible day and such an honour, I am so proud. Voltaire accepted his award graciously and spoke with confidence and warmth, he is a fantastic person and role model and I feel truly privileged to have been able to support him along with all of the other talented and inspirational people I work with every day.”
An event to celebrate Voltaire’s achievement was also held on Wednesday, June 27, at Community Links’ Chando East Community Hub in Stratford.