The Health Volunteer Award recognises the commitment and impact of a volunteer on one of our health programmes over the past year.
- Eric Ngabonziza, Rwanda: Inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for young people with disabilities
- Foday Kamara, Sierra Leone: Reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health
- Joel Econyu, Uganda: Maternal and newborn health
- Tessandra Chapola, Malawi: Prisons health
Winner: Eric Ngabonziza
Rwanda: Inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for young people with disabilities
Eric works to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for vulnerable people, especially Deaf adolescents and adults, who are often excluded from essential SRHR information and services. He ensures that information and services are accessible, by training Deaf peers and healthcare professionals in sign language, supporting others to deliver SRHR sessions in the community, and mentoring peer educators, community health workers and nurses – so empowering over 1,000 vulnerable adolescents to understand and access essential care.
As part of our COVID-19 response in Rwanda, Eric has worked alongside other volunteers and partners to reach Deaf communities with essential health information, including developing sign language video clips that were shared widely on national TV and social media. Realising that people living in remote areas could be excluded from these approaches, Eric liaised with community health workers and peers with smartphones, who could then cascade messages to Deaf people and their families.
Sierra Leone: Reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health
Foday has been a volunteer with the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health for over six years, supporting NGOs and community-based organisations. As a community volunteer, he’s been an integral part of our maternal and newborn health (MNH) work, empowering vulnerable women to benefit from essential care by delivering training sessions, awareness-raising campaigns and outreach activities.
Foday has adapted his work to focus on COVID-19, raising awareness of symptoms and sharing essential messages with local communities, encouraging people to wear face masks, wash their hands regularly, and practise social distancing.
Uganda: Maternal and newborn health
As a volunteer community health specialist, Joel works to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) across the Gulu region, through a three-pronged approach: building the capacity of public health facilities to improve the quality of services they offer, making these services more accessible to the most vulnerable populations, and engaging with community members to promote health-seeking behaviours. He mentors and trains village health team members, peer educators and male champions, so strengthening community health systems and empowering people to access the care they deserve.
Joel was one of the first volunteers to return to work during lockdown, training the village health teams and peer educators in COVID-19 prevention and control. He was a key part of our response, carrying out home-based visits and leading community outreach activities to reach vulnerable populations with key health messages, including encouraging people to continue to access essential MNH care during the pandemic.
Malawi: Prisons health
Tessandra collaborates with our partner organisation, TackleAfrica, using the power of football to engage adolescent girls, overcome taboos, and encourage HIV and AIDS-related behaviour change. By providing comprehensive sexual education to young women in a youth-friendly, accessible and unthreatening way, Tessandra is improving their understanding of sexual and reproductive health, and encouraging them to access family planning services.
As part of our pandemic response, Tessandra and her colleagues adapted their messaging to include important information on how to avoid COVID-19 infection. By building the capacity of youth teams to take charge of their own sexual health, the project has also developed networks of young people who are confident and equipped to prevent COVID-19 infections, as well as support those who fall ill.