Philippa Vernon-Powell awarded MBE – disadvantaged children services, Mexico (23.06.17)

I, along with my family and everyone connected to New Lifeline and Nomadic Thoughts, am thrilled to announce that my sister Philippa has been awarded an MBE for ‘services to disadvantaged children in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico‘, in this week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

An award richly deserved after fifteen years of ceaseless charity work in Mexico and Central America.

Having been a New Lifeline trustee since the charity’s inception as New Life Mexico, I have been in admiration of Philippa and our local team, headed by Ivan Bravo Carbajal.

After a successful corporate career, Philippa began by volunteering to work in a Puerto Vallarta orphanage. She admits that when she was choosing where to go, she knew very little about Mexico, but thought ‘it sounded exciting and I liked the idea of it being hot’.

What she had not bargained on was meeting the inspirational social worker Ivan and a collection of dynamic street children. It wasn’t long before she joined forces, working alongside local social service authorities. With extremely limited resources they focused on providing a safe environment and an essential rehabilitation programme for a collection of vulnerable young street children.

Philippa, in addition to being directly involved in the daily lives of the children, fund-raised, purchased, organised and facilitated the setting up of what was to become a hugely successful children’s rehabilitation centre. Over a thousand children passed through the centre over the next decade, with the facility progressing to become a children’s home, rather than just a ‘street kid centre’.

This success inspired Philippa to re-focus New Life Mexico and New Lifeline’s work on preventative outreach programmes, targeting the most vulnerable children, with social health and education programmes in Mexico and Guatemala. From designing and building local water houses (which have now been rolled out across every school on Puerto Vallarta), to sports, health, education and vocational training programmes, the impact of New Lifeline’s work has been phenomenal. Further afield the support and partnerships with local grass-roots organisations in Mexico and Guatemala has been crucial.

Philippa’s unstinting energy, dedication and compassion has been an inspiration. She has shown how a combination of clear vision and bulldog spirit – backed up by considerable blood, sweat and tears – can make a real difference to many, many lives.

As the testaments from people directly involved in her work at this year’s 15th anniversary celebration in Mexico showed, the impact Philippa has made on her adopted society has been immense.

Philippa, congratulations on your MBE, from the bottom of all our hearts.


New Life Mexico’s first ever day at school group.

Ivan and boys, early days.