Eulogy for Camila Batmanghelidjh 1963-2024

  • Wednesday 3rd January 2024

So very sad to hear of the death of Camila Batmanghelidjh at the far too young age of 61.

Camila was my student in the nineteen eighties, on my Antioch masters programme in existential psychotherapy, at a time when I still taught most courses by myself and was very close to my students. I got to know her well, years before she opted for her colourful self presentation and became a public figure. Her originality was obvious even at that early time and she had an ardent desire to combine art and philosophy for which she found a shape and channel in her masters disssertation.

She continued to refer to me as her teacher and some time before the demise of her great project treated Digby and myself to a wonderful meal at Kids Company, showing us around the rich tapestry of her creations, introducing us to her staff, proudly calling me her guru, to the astonishment of her colleagues, who could not imagine her having had to learn anything from anyone. She was a powerful force of inspiration to all of them.

Camila was an exceptionally gifted, warm hearted and dedicated person. She was uniquely creative and determined to make a difference for the better in the world. She was able to think laterally and do things other people warned her were not possible. She never took no for an answer and never gave up. She certainly managed to catch the public eye and obtain huge amounts of support, but she also encountered great opposition and even malice and was deeply wounded by press campaigns against her. Sad to see some of this resurfacing.

Her work speaks for itself however. She was instrumental in creating the Place to Be and set up Kids Company after leaving that first organization. She has done a great deal to raise many children in the country, especially in South London, from destitution, inspiring them to become contributors to the world instead of slipping into criminality.

May her shining example continue to inspire others to take such amazing initiatives and improve the way we treat each other.

Prof Emmy van Deurzen