- 2006 - Pride of Australia Role Model Medal
- 2007 - 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
- 2008 – Queensland Young Australian of the Year
- 2008 – Finalist for Young Australian of the Year (Canberra 2008)
- 2009 – Toastmasters Communicator of the Year
- 2008/09 - External Advisory Committee for the Xstrata Community Partnership Program within Queensland – Board Member
- 2007 - Youth Delegate at the Asia Pacific City’s Summit and a panelist at Geoffrey Robinson’s Hypothetical at the Summit.
- 2007 speaker at the Queensland Youth Conference in Brisbane.
- 2007 speaker at the Annual Abused Child’s Trust Luncheon in Brisbane
Video: The Beginnings Of 'Forget Me Not'
Forget Me Not Children’s Home
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 - the orphanages were 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.
In January 2006 Lars traveled to Nepal once again, with our first six little girls being placed within the Forget Me Not Children’s Home. With each visit to Nepal our numbers have increased, reaching our current capacity of 21. A large number of the girls have come from Western Nepal, the area of Nepal most affected by Maoist insurgencies, and also the poorest province in Nepal.
The goal now is to raise enough funds to be able to build our ‘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.
As part of Lars’s Youth Ambassador role, in March 2008 he worked with approx 3,000 youths in Townsville. He has also been to many schools and youth conferences talking about leadership, qualities and the strengths that it takes to persevere through difficulties and hard times.
In August 2009 Lars took the Forget Me Not Land and Building Committee to Nepal where land for the Eco Village was purchased in an area called Rani Pauwa. He then took a team of Rotarians and volunteers to the Eco Village site in March 2010 where they spent 2 weeks constructing fencing and clearing the property.
In Feb 2011 he will take over another team of volunteers to construct 250m worth of stone wall along the Road side of the Eco Village, upon completion construction of the first building can then begin.
2010 Update: At the beginning of 2010 Forget Me Not Children’s Home expanded further to support 39 Children in Uganda. This project has been aptly called the ‘Love Project’ and cares for children with Aids and who have been abandoned by parents. The goal for this project is to eventually buy land and create a self-sustaining environment similar to that of the Forget Me Not Eco Village in Nepal.
Since receiving such wonderful recognition with these various awards and nominations, Lars has been traveling interstate, within the state, and around the Wide Bay Region, working with youth at various primary and high schools. He has been spreading the message that each of us in this world, no matter how small we think our contribution may be, can find our passion and make a difference in the world – that we can all create change by following our passion! Many of the classes that Lars has spoken to at the schools have been inspired to start their own fundraising programs (for their chosen charity) within their own school!
Lars’s decision to begin such a significant project at such a young age (he was 21 when he founded the Forget-Me-Not Children’s Home) 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, as 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.
Lars’s heartfelt and passionate speeches at many events and before many community groups throughout the Wide Bay area has meant that the Forget-Me-Not Children’s Home has become much more than one person’s dream, it has become the project of an entire community. It is only with the incredible support of local businesses and people that the funding efforts of the Australian Association of the Forget-Me-Not-Children’s Home have been so successful. The Forget-Me-Not Children’s Home is an example of what can be achieved when a community embraces not simply a charity, but the lives and hearts of 60 little children who live half a world away from their daily concerns. Through Lars’s inspirational example an entire community has been able to open its collective heart and be able to offer to children who had nothing the precious gifts of a home, health and happiness.