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Commonwealth announces finalists for youth awards in development work
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Commonwealth announces finalists for youth awards in development work

The 16 finalists will each receive a £1,000 grant to advance their development work

The Commonwealth has announced the finalists of the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.

The awards celebrate young people (aged 15-29) in the Commonwealth who are making a positive difference to the lives of others through development initiatives ranging from poverty alleviation to education and protection of the environment.

Young people were nominated from more than 36 countries across the Commonwealth for the awards, which are run by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Affairs Division (YAD). YAD manages the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP).

The 16 finalists will each receive a £1,000 grant to advance their development work and guidance from CYP on how their work could be further expanded and sustained.

Four of the finalists will also be awarded a further £2,000 as Regional Winners, and a further £2,000 will be awarded to the Pan-Commonwealth Winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony at the Secretariat’s headquarters in London on 12 March, following Commonwealth Day.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba said: “The nominations we have received for the awards demonstrate that young people are making a wonderful and significant contribution to human development in our member states. As partners in development, young people are using creative ideas, new technologies and are bringing tremendous energy to meeting national development goals. All the nominees are remarkable. I am extremely proud of the young people in the Commonwealth, especially this year when we are celebrating 40 years of youth empowerment through the CYP.”

The finalists are:

Africa and Europe:

  • Ellen Daphine Chilemba, founder of Tiwale

    Area of work: Enterprise development, youth development
  • Foglabenchi Lily Haritu, sexual and reproductive health nurse-activist and Supervisor of the Women’s Health Programme of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services 
    Area of work: Health and wellbeing, HIV/AIDS
  • Isaiah Owolabi, founder and Project Director of HACEY’s Health initiative 
    Area of work: Health and wellbeing, HIV/AIDS
  • Evans Muchika Wadongo, founder of “Use solar, save lives” programme 
    Area of work: Sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction


  • Hanan Ali Abbasi, President of the National Youth Assembly 
    Area of work: Human rights and democracy
  • Anoka Primrose Abeyrathne, eco-entrepreneur  
    Sri Lanka
    Area of work: Agriculture, small enterprise, skills training
  • Gaurang K. Chauhan, founder of Leher  
    Area of work: Education, peer education
  • Sikander Sabeer, youth leader 
    Sri Lanka
    Area of work: Climate change/environment protection

 Caribbean (including Canada):


  • Melissa Edwards, founder of Heyday Festival 
    Area of work: Arts and Culture
  • Julian O’Shea, Director of the Engineers Without Borders Institute and volunteer
    Area of work: Science and Technology
  • Chanel Tauveve, employer and recipient of the Young Farmer Award 2012 from Samoa’s Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development
    Area of work: Sustainable Livelihoods and poverty reduction
  • Jill Wai, Vanuatu Monitoring and Evaluation Program Managers at Youth Challenge 
    Area of work: Education, peer education

The finalists were selected at the CYP Regional Centres in Guyana, India, Solomon Islands and Zambia.

Each CYP Regional Centre judging panel was comprised of two representatives from Commonwealth member governments, two representatives from the regional Commonwealth Youth Caucus, and the CYP Regional Centre Director.

The four Regional Winners and the Pan-Commonwealth Winner will be determined by an adjudication panel under the chairmanship of Mrs Masire-Mwamba. The adjudication panel will comprise of the YAD Director, Katherine Ellis, high commissioners and youth leaders.



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