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Neville Kay Mixit Memorial Scholarship Announced

Mixit, a Charitable Trust that provides support for former refugee and migrant youth, is delighted to announce a new scholarship to assist young people from former refugee backgrounds. A former Mixit patron, Neville Kay, bequeathed in his will provision to establish an ongoing scholarship fund, to be managed by Mixit, for young people of diverse backgrounds needing assistance to help them with study and professional development costs towards their ongoing careers.

Mixit was established in 2006, following a period of extensive research into the needs and issues of former refugee youth in Aotearoa. The research looked at what obstacles former refugee youth faced and considered how an arts project could use engagement with creativity to build core life skills and capacity to help with successful integration into their new communities. The outcome of that research became Mixit, a weekly community initiative which uses participation in creativity as a powerful means to build self-confidence, communication skills, team-work and problem solving, along with simply taking part in inspiring, undeniable FUN. Under the guise of which many life skills are actively embedded and practised, while also providing a space for socialisation and belonging.

Neville Kay first encountered Wendy Preston MNZM (Mixit co-founder) when she was meeting people as part of the research in 2005, initiated by the Fledgling Trust, the outcome of which would go on to become Mixit. Some years later Neville saw how that early research had developed into an ongoing rock-steady, life-changing community organisation and he reached out to reconnect. At that time he was nearing the end of his life and wished to align with mahi that was making a real difference for young people, something he had been committed to throughout his life. Neville was a stalwart and tireless campaigner for social equity and human rights, not only in Aotearoa, but around the world. He felt that Mixit was a great fit with his values and wanted to ensure he could set up a platform that could continue impacting in a meaningful way. Neville sadly passed away in 2022, but he had made sure his legacy was in place.

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2024 is the first year of the Neville Kay Mixit Memorial Scholarship with 3 recipients.

These include:

Fatemeh Azimi (based in Dunedin and formerly from Afghanistan) who has started her studies at University of Otago towards becoming an Anaesthesiologist. Arezo Nazari (based in Auckland and formerly from Afghanistan) has started at University of Auckland towards becoming a Human Rights lawyer and Sajal Taneja (based in Auckland and originally from India) has commenced at University of Auckland in Health Sciences, as a first step towards further study in medicine.

Wendy Preston, is still at the helm as the Mixit Director and comments:

“This is an extraordinary line of support for those who have no networks or established connections in this country - our new New Zealanders. Nor do they necessarily always have the capacity to navigate our unfamiliar tertiary study institutions, while simultaneously overcoming huge odds. Often it’s the teens in the families we work with who carry the burden of lifting their family up and into a brighter future. However, it’s hard for them not to be overwhelmed by these responsibilities. Additionally, they can have other barriers to overcome - such as past trauma, struggling with English, negotiating culturally foreign worlds, together with a limited understanding from parents about what it actually takes to make it through to graduation in New Zealand. Sometimes they are preparing for jobs that they may not be suitable for, even if they could find a career opportunity in their chosen fields post-studies. The failure rate of former refugee students is a familiar story – often through making the wrong study choices with little or no advice. A great deal of wrap around understanding and support is needed so that they can successfully become part of our future as a diverse, vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-faith society. This is not an option for Aotearoa – it IS our future. Neville Kays recognition of Mixit is a wonderful validation of the hard mahi we have been committed to week in and week out for nearly 20 years. He could see that we are making tangible, transformational differences for young people and wanted to swing in and help support these future leaders.”

Scholarship recipient Arezo Nazari reflects:

“As an Afghan girl my education is important to me because currently a lot of my friends in Afghanistan don’t have the same opportunity, or even a right to education. However, going to University can be very challenging for a former refugee. My first challenge was the financial struggle of fees and course materials, which were impossible for me to pay without support. It is an honour to be awarded this Scholarship which has opened doors to my dream of becoming a Human Rights lawyer. This Scholarship has also given me hope and encouraged me to work harder to give back to NZ society through my studies.

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