VSO Volunteer Impact Awards, The unsung heroes of 2021

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2021 has continued to be a year of great uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VSO volunteers have worked tirelessly in uniquely difficult and challenging circumstances. This year’s awards recognised some of our unsung heroes of 2021, and their outstanding contributions in helping the most marginalised communities in society. Volunteers were nominated under four categories: health, education, livelihoods, and impact beyond volunteering.

Watch a recap of the awards

Our 2021 winners and finalists

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Volunteer Impact Awards. A huge congratulations to everyone who was nominated.

National volunteer Brown Niyonsaba stands smiling in front of the blackboard in a classroom at Umutara Deaf School in Rwanda.

Brown Niyonsaba

Health Award

Brown Niyonsaba, Imbere-Heze project in Rwanda

A Deaf volunteer herself, Brown has supported deaf young people to access health services, learn about gender-based violence and supported them to receive critical information about COVID-19. Brown has mentored deaf peer educators, community health workers and nurses about sign language and also engaged with parents and community leaders though video messages and WhatsApp groups. 

She has amplified the voice for the vulnerable youth deaf youth in Nyagatare by supporting them to register for national Identity cards for the first time. Browns constant communication with communities  has helped her establish forums where those with disabilities feel heard and are able to report cases of violence.

Read more about Brown's work on the Imbere-Heze project

Our Health Award nominees

Uzoamaka Onyinye Didigwu, national volunteerfor Inclusive Education in Nigeria.

Uzoamaka Onyinye Didigwu

Education Award

Uzoamaka Onyinye Didigwu, Inclusive Education in Nigeria

Uzoamaka has contributed to training over 100 teachers on the use of sign language and has helped over 1000 learners and 28 volunteers to learn sign language. She also provided sign language updates for COVID-19 announcements during the first wave of the pandemic in Nigeria. This lead to the adoption of signers being used to communicate COVID-19 messaging by National Television in Nigeria.

Our Education Award nominees

Evans Otieno, national volunteer, Engagement and Leadership in Kenya

Evans Otieno

Livelihoods Award

Evans Otieno, Engagement and Leadership in Kenya

Evans has facilitated the Organisation Performance Improvement process to help youth led organisations, become more effective, sustainable, and deliver results for the youth they seek to empower economically and socially.

He has played a key role in linking the young people with VSO experts to ensure the youth have the right skills. He has advocated for increased governmental accountability and transparency and supported young people to exercise their rights.

Our Livelihoods Award nominees

Mwarabu Adam

Mwarabu Adam

Impact Beyond Volunteering Award

Mwarabu Adam, former ICS volunteer and community volunteer in Tanzania

Former ICS volunteer Mwarabu helped to break down stigma towards people with disabilities during his ICS placement and is now continuing to support young people in his community. He has created a community- based organisation to support young people to address issues of climate change- setting up school clubs on environmental conversation and running community clean up days, and provided training to people with disabilities.

Our Impact Beyond Volunteering nominees

Recap the award


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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