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MGC, 2005 Leaver

Rebecca was a pioneering humanitarian who was tragically killed while working for the British Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, in December 2017, aged just 30.

After school, Rebecca studied Social Anthropology at Manchester University. There, she developed a growing political awareness and sense of global injustice. By the time she left university, she was clear that she wanted to dedicate her professional life to improving the lives of others.

In 2009, Rebecca applied to the Voluntary Service Overseas Exchange Programme. She was assigned to postings in Brighton and Bahrain that focused on youth charity projects. It was in Bahrain where Rebecca first developed an interest in the Middle East.

In 2010, Rebecca started working for the Crown Agents in the Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Operations Team. In 2014, she became a civil servant in the UK government’s Stabilisation Unit, which focuses on peace-building in countries affected by conflict. In that role, Rebecca spent much of her time working on deployments to Sub-Saharan Africa, where she managed relationships with United Nations and European Union peace-building missions.

Around this time, Rebecca studied for a Master’s in International Security and Global Governance at Birkbeck, University of London.

In 2014, Rebecca moved to DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Department. She then worked as a Research Analyst specialising in Iraq and Libya at the Foreign Office.

The year of her death, Rebecca was promoted to Programme and Policy Manager. That role took her to Lebanon, where she focused on improving the lives of Syrian and Palestinian refugees and impoverished Lebanese host communities. The projects she oversaw helped those communities become more peaceful and resilient through the establishment of social stability dialogue mechanisms, increasing the capacity of strained essential services and the creation of jobs.

Rebecca loved her work and was proud to dedicate herself to causes in which she believed. Just hours before she died, she had been overjoyed to learn that she had successfully secured the future of the Palestinian Youth Project, a project which improves social stability in Palestinian communities across Lebanon.

Following Rebecca’s death, the Rebecca Dykes Foundation was established to continue her stabilisation work in Lebanon, with a focus on women’s empowerment. The Foundation has already funded a substantial project in collaboration with Christian Aid and Lebanese women’s charity KAFA to support a shelter for vulnerable women and establish a 24/7 emergency helpline.

What does success look like?

At Rebecca’s memorial, Cabinet Minister Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, said, “Rebecca changed thousands of lives for the better, and if we judge her on those achievements, she achieved a lifetime’s worth”.

What is your best piece of advice?

Advice that we might learn from Rebecca’s experience is to dare to follow your heart; our capacity to care for others is powerful and can take us to exciting places and inspire others to follow in our path