To round off 2019, we want to take a moment to celebrate the power of volunteering: from normalising sexual health conversations in Zambia to using interactive theatre to tackle child marriage in Nepal.
We saw many of your faces at VSO’s Volunteer Awards, held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. But if you couldn’t make it, here’s the two ICS volunteers who were up for a prize.
1. Innocent’s ‘Contraceptive Conversation’
Tanzanian ICS alumni Innocent Grant, 22, was a finalist for this year’s Health Volunteer Award.
Medical student Innocent was well aware of the lack of trustworthy sexual health information available to young people. So he started the ‘Contraceptive Conversation’, a text line connecting young people to doctors and medical students providing safe, free and reliable sexual health advice.
“My dream is a future where young people have free access to contraception and sexual health services and can live a life free of negative attitudes towards them,” said Innocent. “I want HIV to no longer become an issue. And I want no more young girls to have to drop out of school because of pregnancy.”
And his work doesn’t end there. As an ICV Alumni Grantee, he's now working on a project to shine a light on the stories of young girls who have been affected by a lack of access to sexual health services.
2. Lilian’s girl’s mentorship
Another inspiring nomination came in the form of fellow Tanzanian ICS alumni Lillian Sospeter, 25, for the Livelihoods Volunteer Award.
After carrying out her placement in Mtwara on employability and vocational training, Lillian’s volunteering didn’t stop there. She was a founding member of Tanzania’s National Youth Engagement Network – our worldwide groups of ICS alumni who take on their own projects.
And as a mentor with a girl’s secondary school in the town of Njombe, Lilian is supporting these young leaders of tomorrow with sessions like reproductive health, confidence building and career guidance. It’s an experience that’s building on her knowledge as a professional volunteer with VSO, where she’s provided nine gender workshops for over 300 people. Impressive.
‘I am proud of all I have achieved and I’m excited about the future” said Lilian. “ICS has been a blessing for my career and personal development. It has been the root of all my achievements.”
Have you got professional skills to volunteer?
Have you been inspired by Innocent and Lilian? If you have professional skills learnt through study or the workplace, put them to good use as a professional volunteer. It’s something that Filipino national Ruby Yap demonstrated when she won this year’s Volunteer Impact Award.
Ruby left for Ghana on a two-year VSO placement working with organisations to provide quality education for children. But ten years later, Ruby’s still working in the community, where she’s been involved in a wide range of work including the training of widows in different skills, donating a 40-foot container of medical items and vaccinating 100 children against hepatitis B.
What advice does she have for younger volunteers like you?
“When you want to work in development, work from your heart.”