In mid-2004 at the age of 21 Lars Olsen did volunteer work at an orphanage in Nepal for five months. Whilst there he taught English and distributed basic hygiene items. He fell in love with the children and thought that he could help by supporting an already existing orphanage in Nepal. However, the longer Lars stayed in Nepal, the more he realised that there were problems with the orphanages that he was volunteering at - theywere overcrowded and orphans were infected with lice and scabies, and often suffering from malnutrition. The most devastating, and perhaps most defining, moment that brought Lars to his decision was when he discovered that board members at one of the orphanages were molesting a number of young girls who were in the orphanage. Lars did what he could to bring such terrible actions to public attention by exposing them within the local news, and arranging for the girls to be secretly removed to safe houses.
Upon returning to Australia, Lars decided that he would open his own orphanage, funded within Australia but based in Nepal. With legal assistance a constitution was written, charity status applied for and the Australian Association of the Forget Me Not Children’s Home was underway. A committee exists in Australia, and an equivalent committee exists in Nepal, with each committee working together in order to produce the best outcomes for the association and the orphanage.
The goal now is to raise enough funds to be able to build the ‘Forget Me Not Eco Village’. This project will support 60 children with a possibility of increasing the numbers as the support for this project increases. The aim of this village will be to introduce a large range of varying programs which will complement and enhance the local community. The end goal is for the village to be completely self-sustaining.
Lars’s decision to begin such a significant project at such a young age has meant that he is an inspiration in particular to the many young people whose lives he touches, as a coach, as a speaker at school events, and at the many Forget-Me-Not fundraising events.
Lars is an inspiration to everyone that he comes into contact with. Whether it is as a coach, as an athlete, a wonderful brother, partner and son, and as a friend and fellow human being, Lars is the embodiment of a soul who gives more than he takes. His commitment to his dream of offering orphaned children a home to call their own demonstrates what it truly means to put service toward others before self.
• Pride of Australia Role Model Medal, 2006.
• Finalist in the Young Achievers Awards, 2007.
• Suncorp Young Queenslander of Year, 2007.
• Finalist, Queensland Young Australian of the Year Award, 2007.
• Australian Youth Ambassador, Australian Youth Development Program, 2007.
• Queensland Young Australian of the Year, 2008.
• Finalist, Young Australian of the Year, 2008.
• Toastmasters Communicator of the Year, 2009.