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Steven Burak (OX 2009)

Stories of Xaverians

Inaugural Recipient of the Timothy Martyn Memorial Award

Steve Burak

When one considers the life and work of Timothy Martyn (OX 1996), Steven Burak is a most worthy recipient of the award which honours Timothy. At the time of his death, Timothy Martyn was working in Fiji, with responsibilities across the Pacific region for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

At the moment, Steven Burak works for ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, a French NGO, which is a non-political, non-profit organisation), as a Senior Project Development Officer based in Somalia. He is also overseeing aid projects in Kenya and Somalia, his work involves designing and overseeing emergency response projects for people affected by both man-made and natural disasters.

Some detail on the situation in Somalia where Steve is based, gives an idea of the scale of the challenges he faces in his work: “Somalia faces looming threats of recurrent climate shocks, armed conflict and famine. The population has lived through the world’s most prolonged humanitarian crises: food insecurity, human rights abuses and diminishing work opportunities. One-third of the population of 4.2 million people are reliant on humanitarian aid”. (Source: ACTED)

Steven is involved in planning both emergency responses and conducting long term projects. Prior to Somalia he worked in Ethiopia designing emergency projects across sub-Saharan Africa. He provided advice on improving access to water in Peru and worked as an intern for the United Nations Secretariat in Lebanon.

Steven’s teachers at Xavier remember him well, they saw the seeds of his future career in service to others in his school days. He was selected to go on the Broome Exchange and the Indian Immersion experience. He received an Ignatian Service Award in 2008 and in 2009 he was a Prefect and Captain of Faith and Service. He was also awarded the Dr Francis Foley Prize for Christian Social Concern at Valete. The Valete booklet in 2009 records Steven’s wide involvement in College life, both curricular and co-curricular.

The former Rector at Xavier College Father Thomas Renshaw SJ, conveyed the following tribute to Steven: “At school Steve was strongly committed to Ignatian Service. This flowed from his love of Jesus and his formative experiences on the Broome Immersion and through the activities of the Centre for Faith and Service, especially Friday Night School. On Friday afternoons, Steve could be found in the Memorial Chapel forecourt, helping organising many students as they prepared to engage in different Ignatian service activities on offer. It is very inspiring and consoling to see Steve continuing his love of service working with ACTED in very challenging contexts in Africa”.

We congratulate Steven Burak on receiving this award, which is a significant acknowledgement of an alumnus who in is his life’s work is truly A Man for Others. And in making this acknowledgement, we once more honour the memory of the late Timothy Martyn (OX 1996), an alumnus of whom we are immensely proud. We also thank the Martyn Family for their help and guidance in establishing this memorial award.