Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work celebrate young people in the Commonwealth who are making a positive difference to the lives of others
Four young development workers from Australia, Barbados, Kenya and Sri Lanka, were today awarded £14,000 between them for their projects.
Evans Wadongo, who won both the pan-Commonwealth and Africa region Commonwealth Youth Award, received a £5,000 grant for the charity he founded, ‘Use solar, save lives’.
At 19, Mr Wadongo designed a solar-powered lantern using recycled materials. Over 27,000 of these lanterns have been produced and distributed across Kenya, providing a safer, cheaper and environmentally-friendly lighting alternative to kerosene lamps. His programme has expanded to include building regional youth centres, which provide skills training for young people.
Regional winners for Africa, Asia and the Pacific each won a £3,000 grant.
Eco-entrepreneur Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne from Sri Lanka designed a programme that provides young people with skills to increase their employability, including training in how to write a resume, eco-tourism and computing. Her project is being replicated in Bangladesh and India.
As Chairman and President of The Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, Kemar Saffrey provides access to food, clothing, shelter and rehabilitation for those in need.
Julian O’Shea, Director of the Engineers Without Borders Institute, delivers education and technology projects across South Asia and within Aboriginal communities in Australia. He also encourages engineering students to undertake research projects focused on technologically sustainable development.
Welcoming guests to the awards ceremony in London on 12 March, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “The objectives of the awards are to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of young people in the areas of development and democracy and to encourage sustainable investment in the depth and breadth of talent that exists across the Commonwealth.
“The future of the Commonwealth is bright because it is in the hands of these young people and the contributions they are making.”
Speaking afterwards about his win, Mr Wadongo said: “This award will go a long way in helping me to inspire other young people in Africa where opportunities are limited, not because of a lack of knowledge, but a lack of resources. I am interested in solutions that can be replicated across societies in the Commonwealth and that will impact as many lives as possible.”
The awards follow Commonwealth Day on Monday, 11 March, when this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’ was launched at events around the globe. The theme celebrates the innovation and dedication of Commonwealth citizens, whose ideas are helping their communities and countries to prosper.
Young people from more than 36 countries across the Commonwealth were nominated for the awards, which are run by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Affairs Division. The division manages the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
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