|Tribute to Michael Blakey (27/2/1983 - 26/11/2006)
Michael Blakey, a wonderful, intelligent and compassionate young man, was tragically and senselessly murdered in McLeod Ganj, India at the end of November 2006. The motive is thought to be robbery, and the perpetrators have yet to be apprehended. Michael had been working as a volunteer in the field for the last 5 months of his life. He was only 23, but had a maturity far beyond his years and had worked tirelessly for Tong-Len from its conception.
As a graduate of the University of Wales Swansea with a first class honours degree in Development Studies, he was particularly involved in the research and development side of the charity's work, with a specific focus on education, health and community-based projects. It had been his plan to return to the UK to spend Christmas with his family but return to India for a further six months prior to commencing his studies for a PhD in London.
Michael was instrumental in the establishment of Tong-Len Charitable Trust in India in December 2004 and was one of the founder members of the partner charity, Tong-Len UK, which raises the funds for the work in the field. He worked tirelessly for Tong-Len and was an inspiration to all.
Michael was not just a do-gooder, although he did more that his fair share of good deeds, he was essentially good in the very core of his being. He cared passionately about the poor, the underprivileged, those who were suffering any kind of hardship or personal pain. He not only cared he acted. He made things happen. He brought about change and reform. He achieved more in his 23 years than most do in a life 4 times as long.
Michael's last dream, one the whole Tong-Len family shares, was to buy land on which to build bigger and better hostel accommodation, skills training workshops, health facilities - all the things that he felt so passionately were needed if Tong-Len's work is to develop and expand. Michael would never have rested until he saw these things come into being, and neither will we. We are determined to fulfil his dreams. We want to build the kind of centre he so much wanted, and have it named for him. The knowledge that such a centre, The Michael Blakey Centre, will not only help a great many destitute children and their families, but also will inspire others to follow his example, will, we hope, be of some comfort to Michael's family.
Michael will live on in the hearts and memories of all of us who knew him, who loved him. The greatest loss is of course his family's, and we share that pain with them. However the loss of Michael is more than the sum of all our personal losses. The world has lost a wonderful young man with a passion for justice, an ardent campaigner for human rights.
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