Speakers Profile - Hugh Evans

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Hugh Evans is 25 years old and already earned the enviable reputation of international humanitarian.

He was just 14 years old when he began his humanitarian work, travelling to the Philippines as an ambassador for World Vision.

Sleeping in the slums of the Manila ignited Hugh's passion for helping serve the world's poor. A passion he felt all the more forcibly the following year while studying in India. The abject poverty he was exposed to strengthened Hugh's resolve to make a difference to those struggling for survival in the developing world.

After completing high school in 2001, Hugh deferred University becoming World Vision's inaugural Youth Ambassador travelling to South Africa. On the ground, Hugh implemented building projects while caring for a number of orphaned children affected by aids.

Returning to Australia, Hugh become founder and director of the Oaktree Foundation. It remains Australia's first youth run aid organisation with a mission to empower young people in the developing world through education in a way that is sustainable.

Hugh set up the first Oaktree project in South Africa's Kwa-Zulu-Natal province: a community resource centre that now provides more than a thousand people with the opportunity to receive education for the first time in their lives.
In Ghana, West Africa, Hugh helped develop a project focussing on releasing young women from slavery and providing them with educational opportunities in partnership with International Needs.

Since 2003 development projects funded by Oaktree have also been established in The Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India and East Timor, providing educational opportunities to more than 40,000 young people.

When the Boxing Day tsunami struck in 2004, Hugh quickly travelled to the epicentre in Banda Aech. Together with other NGO's Hugh helped co-ordinate an emergency relief operation.

He returned and soon became one of the key leaders behind the successful Make Poverty History campaign. Hugh led a team around the country throwing the spotlight on the importance of Australia boosting its foreign aid commitment to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income - in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals of ending extreme poverty by 2015.

The campaign included illuminating the sails of Sydney's famous Opera House for several days with faces of poverty. Hugh and close friend Dan Adams ran the Make Poverty History concert involving major Australian artists as well as U2 frontman, Bono.

The Rudd Government has formally acknowledged Hugh's contribution and the impact the campaign had by giving them the confidence that the Australian electorate would accept significantly boosting Australia's foreign aid commitment, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

In 2008 Hugh stepped down from Oaktree and was soon charged with the responsibility of becoming the Co-Chair of the inaugural Youth 2020 Summit in Canberra.

It's one of many title's Hugh can claim, together with numerous accolades and awards.

Among the most notable, in 2004 the Australia Day Council awarded Hugh the prestigious title: Young Australian of the Year.

In 2005, Hugh's humanitarian work was recognised on a global scale, named the Junior Chamber Young Person of the World Award.

In 2006 Hugh was the recipient of the 'Free Your Mind' award - a title he also shares with Burmese human rights activist Ang San SuShi.

Hugh's sincerity, humility and genuineness have inspired so many people, young and old, to work towards helping those less fortunate. He is an inspiring individual.