Two Sierra Leonean youths, Haja Isatu Bah and Foday David Kamara, have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to their communities and shortlisted among fifty exceptional young people for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.
Foday David Kamara, a social entrepreneur and founder of Ecovironment, was acknowledged for his initiative that recycles municipal plastic waste into eco-bricks and paving tiles in Makeni City. This project has successfully recycled 600 tonnes of plastic waste, preventing over 1.5 tons of plastic carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Moreover, it has created 100 jobs and imparted environmental conservation and waste management training to over 40 communities, reaching more than 100,000 people.
Haja Isatu Bah, a feminist and environmentalist, was shortlisted for her social enterprise, Uman4Uman, which produces and sells reusable sanitary pads for girls and women. This initiative has provided affordable and eco-friendly menstrual products, benefiting over 5,000 girls and women. Additionally, it has established a menstrual hygiene club with over 100 members.
The Commonwealth Youth Awards ceremony will be held in London on Thursday, 14 September 2023, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
Among the fifty shortlisted, twenty finalists will be chosen, and they will receive a trophy, certificate, and £1,000 each to expand the impact of their work. Furthermore, the top finalist from each region will be recognized as the regional winner and receive £3,000. One of the five regional winners will be named the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023 and awarded £5,000.
The awards ceremony will be presented in person as one of the milestone activities of the Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Meeting, scheduled from 11-15 September 2023, after two virtual ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the monetary prizes, one project will receive £20,000 in funding over two years through the Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT). The selected winner will also be enrolled in QCT’s Platinum Jubilee Fund program and provided with coaching and development opportunities to further support their project’s success.