Father and son in the Philippines
VSO/Lisa Marie David

Our 2023 award finalists

We’re pleased to announce the shortlisted nominees for the 2023 Volunteer Impact Awards. We want to express a huge thank you to our hard-working volunteers for making VSO’s vision possible.

2023 award winners

Health Award

Winner: Jamal Hossain, community volunteer from Bangladesh

Youth development under leadership and engagement

Jamal Hossain

Jamal is a member of VSO Bangladesh’s National Youth Engagement Network (NYEN) and President of VSO’s youth forum with a membership of almost 2,000 community volunteers. Jamal lives in Lalmonirhat district a flood-prone area of Bangladesh.

In his district, child marriage is common, and the parents consider girls to be a burden on the family. Jamal has been campaigning to stop child marriage by conducting awareness raising sessions among Dalit Harijan people (lower cast Hindu community) about the negative impact of early child marriage.

Khin Swe Thin, community volunteer from Myanmar

Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Services (AYSRHR) Project

Khin Swe Thin
Khin Swe Thin

Khin Swe Thin has been volunteering on the Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Services (AYSRHR) project in Myanmar. Khin has dedicated herself to empowering youth in the community with knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights, helping them to access youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services in their community, and educating them about gender-based violence.

Gift Mwanza, national volunteer from Zambia

Make Way Project

Gift Mwanza

Gift volunteers as a Social Accountability Advisor on the Make Way project which breaks down barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights services for the most marginalised. Gift has delivered capacity-building trainings to Make Way partners, youth champions, Ministry of Health staff, and community leaders. By doing so Gift has empowered young people to engage in a dialogue with high level decision makers on issues that affect them.

Education Award

Winner: Salma Rehmat, community volunteer from Pakistan

Multi Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) Project

Salma Rehmat

As a volunteer on the Multi Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) project, Salma works to provide safe learning environments to some of the most vulnerable children, including those living with disabilities and Afghan refugees.

Salma has managed to identify 106 out-of-school children by visiting the houses of recently migrated Afghan refugees and helping these children return to school via catch-up classes. Using low-cost materials, she has helped the children regain a passion for learning. Salma is now a well-known figure in the community, and she is seen as a true advocate for cohesion between host and refugee communities.

Rukaiya Siddika, national volunteer from Bangladesh

Active and Inclusive Volunteering and Empowerment (ACTIVE) programme

Rukaiya Siddika

Rukaiya Siddika is a national volunteer in Bangladesh, working to improve education for children who live in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar. Using the VSOSCHOOL app, the project is building the capacity of facilitators and teachers in the camp, to help adopt a blended and fun learning approach.

Rukaiya has been instrumental in developing modules for the app. She has provided technological literacy capacity building to 110 community volunteers and supported almost 2,000 children indirectly through the app. She has also conducted training for volunteers on how to develop technology-based educational material.

Find out more in Rukaiya's blog post

Cleopatra Nkala, international volunteer in Rwanda

Let’s Learn Through Play (Twigire Mumikino Rwanda)

Cleopatra Nkala

‘Let’s Learn Through Play' known locally as Twigire Mumikino Rwanda (TMR) funded by the LEGO Foundation supports Early Childhood Education teachers and promotes play-based learning as the foundation of early childhood education for 3- to 6-year-olds. Cleopatra's role has been crucial in promoting learning through play approaches, coordinating the development of modules through the VSOSCHOOL app for early years’ teachers to enhance their professional development.

Livelihoods Award

Manny Kawad, community volunteer from the Philippines


Lisa Marie David
Manny Kawad

Manny volunteers on a ACTIVE funded project which supports former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and their families to access livelihood opportunities, build peaceful and resilient communities, and respond to the challenges of environmental degradation.

Manny, a former commander in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), decided to take a more peaceful path and became a VSO volunteer in the Philippines. Manny overseas the day-to-day running of the ecotourism site and has helped with the construction of a boardwalk and garden planting activities. He also oversees an initiative, harvesting hyacinths for bio-fertiliser and waterlilies for salad leaves to generate income. What was previously a rebel spot is being transformed into a tourism spot.

Learn more about our work in the Philippines

Laura McCarthy, international volunteer in Tanzania

Entrepreneurship and Employability (EYEE) project

Laura McCarthy
Laura McCarthy

Laura volunteered with VSO’s partner organisation, Randstad on the Enhancing Youth Entrepreneurship and Employability project (EYEE) programme in Tanzania. The project focuses on youth empowerment, employability, and entrepreneurship to help young people develop market-relevant skills to prepare them for the labour market.

Laura worked with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises set up by young people on business strategies such as gender, finance and marketing to generate income.

Winner: Alfonse Odipo, national volunteer from Kenya


Alfonse Odipo

Alfonse volunteers as a climate change advisor and adaptation specialist as part of the ACTIVE programme, in Kenya. Alfonse supports farmers collectives to develop and sustain alternative livelihoods and to adapt to the impact of climate change.

Alfonse provided technical support to the County Government of Kilifi in reviewing the county’s Climate Change Act and ensuring the needs of marginalised groups including youth, women and persons with disabilities were met through the bill. Under the Act which passed in 2023, the Financing Locally Led Climate Action (FLLoCA) project can continue its work.

Hear more from Alfonse on our livestream recording 'How youth collectives in Kenya are championing climate resilience'

Active Citizenship Award

Our Active Citizenship Award winner was decided by you, the public.

Winner: Abdulahi Adebayo, national volunteer from Nigeria

Abdulahi in the field
Abdulahi Adebayo

Abdulahi is a VSO climate youth champion, and member of the National Youth Engagement Network (NYEN) in Nigeria.

In collaboration with other youth champions, VSO returned volunteers, youth networks, and community-based organisations, Abdulahi trained 248 youths and people living with disabilities on climate change mitigation and adaption strategies, circular economy, waste management and other livelihood opportunities across five states in Nigeria.

Hear more from Abdulahi in our livestream recording 'How Nigeria’s youth is turning the tide on plastic waste'

Michael Leo, national volunteer from Tanzania

Michael Leo
Michael Leo

Since his VSO volunteering placement, Michael has continued to demonstrate active citizenship across health, education, and resilient livelihoods. From raising awareness of COVID-19 safety to mobilising young community members to understand the local barriers for young people trying to access inclusive healthcare services. Through Michael’s advocacy efforts the district medical officer has committed to strengthen adolescent youth services.

Michael also set up the “Break the Silence on Gender Based Violence” where more than 1,500 adolescents were educated.  As a climate youth champion, Michael has also been working with volunteers and plastics recyclers to ensure responsible waste management practices amongst households and waste collectors.

Temesgen Bireda, national volunteer from Ethiopia

Temesgen Bireda

Temesgen is a national volunteer on the ACTIVE programme where he is tasked ensuring the Global Volunteering Standard and VSO’s Volunteering for Development approach is adaptable for partners, communities, and youth. Temesgen has successfully engaged partners, civil society organisations, youth and volunteer alumni on a global level.

He is also largely responsible for the inception and formation of the reformed VSO Youth Network in Ethiopia and the Network of Active Youth (NAY) in 2023. By building a strong presence and following on social media, NAY advocate for issues such as the involvement of youth in climate change policy and their participation in green jobs, social inclusion and gender awareness.

How our finalists are selected

Related links

Nigerian youth volunteers

Volunteer Impact Awards 2023

It’s that magical time of year when we get to honour the inspirational work of VSO volunteers from different corners of the globe. Join us in celebrating on Thursday 7 December.

Kenya farming youth group
Paul Wambugu/Obscuramedia

Celebrating Active Citizenship - 2022 Volunteer Impact Award Winners

On Thursday 8 December 2022, VSO hosted its annual Volunteer Impact Awards, celebrating the exceptional contribution of volunteers from around the world. If you missed the ceremony yourself, we’ll be rounding up our 2022 winners in this blog!

Youth teaching her mother about early marriages using a Talking Book
Chosa Mweemba

Our awards finalists 2022

The shortlisted nominees for the 2022 Volunteer Impact Awards.