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City slum hero to be awarded by Queen Elizabeth in London

Mr Douglas Mwangi, popularly known as Mzelo, will on Tuesday night be among 53 selected young leaders across the Commonwealth countries who are expected to receive their prestigious awards from Her Majesty The Queen in London for their invaluable roles in their communities.

The 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award recognises and applauds exceptional people aged between 18-29 years from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.

Mr Mwangi was selected following a competitive process involving thousands of applicants.

The young people join a network of 240 powerful young leaders from 53 Commonwealth countries, who are driving change to make the world a better place.


The 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders are finding solutions to global issues such as climate change, food scarcity, gender-based violence, mental health, and access to education.

The award ceremony will take place at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty’s residence, from 1750hrs London Time. Prince Harry and Duchess Megan are also expected to attend the ceremony.

Later this month, Mr Mwangi will visit 10 Downing Street, take part in master classes at the BBC World Service and the UK Headquarters of Facebook.

Award winners will also attend workshops at the University of Cambridge and visit projects that are changing the lives of vulnerable people in the UK.

Born and raised in Mathare slum, Mr Mwangi was chosen in recognition of the work he is doing to reduce illiteracy and poverty in his community and beyond.

He founded Oasis Mathare, which offers entrepreneurial and IT skills to hundreds of unemployed young people including teenage mothers.


The centre has so far transformed the lives of more than 2,000 teenage mothers, young people and children in the slum.

Speaking on phone from London, Mr Mwangi could not hide his joy. He said the award is not only to recognise his effort, but also a sign of hope to young people living in informal settlements across the country.

“I am overjoyed to be part of a group of phenomenal young men and women who are transforming lives.”

This prestigious award is very special to me and to all people struggling to make a living in many informal settlements,” he said.

Mr Mwangi believes that much has not been done to transform the lives of many youths living in slums. He cited illiteracy, unemployment, drug abuse and crime as the major challenges.

“I have tried my best and I am sure some of them are transformed, the journey is still long and I cannot achieve my dream alone, we must join hands together,” he admits.

He further added that although they are numerous challenges facing many youths who are living in the informal settlements in the country, few have proved that with necessary support, everyone can make it life.