UNHCR Volunteer Service Awards

Inaugural UNHCR Volunteer Service Award conferred on 14 UN Volunteers

The contributions of 14 UN Volunteers with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) were celebrated this month, as they became the recipients of the first ever UNHCR Volunteer Service Awards 2021.

The award comes as the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme celebrates its 50th anniversary and on the 2021 International Volunteer Day. Recipients of the Volunteer Service Awards are acknowledged for the impact of their volunteer efforts in the community; for the challenges they have overcome and for their inspiration to others. From over 130 nominations, the 14 winners across UNHCR’s seven regions are celebrated and acknowledged for going the extra mile in making an impact in their communities (video below).

Speaking at the Service Award ceremony, Catty Bennet Sattler, Director of Human Resources at UNHCR spoke of the 730 UN Volunteers who form a critical part of UNHCR, as "the majority serve deep in the field, making a difference, being there face to face, hand to hand & heart to heart with refugees."

You bring so much as a UN Volunteer to the organization, and hopefully, you walk away with a richer experience that enriches the world. Congratulations to all the winners – you are the spirit of refugees. --Catty Bennet Sattler, Director of Human Resources, UNHCR

This year’s winners serve with UNHCR all around the world, from Mexico to Armenia and Bangladesh. They include a group of eight refugee UN Volunteer medical specialists, serving with UNHCR in Jordan, in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Trained as surgeons, anesthesiologists and general doctors, these specialists from Syria, Iraq and Yemen demonstrate the value of volunteer-based solutions in designing and implementing an inclusive COVID-19 response.

The impact is what drives me the most, the result we achieve is my motivation. I invite all of you to come and join us. --Ndifor Isi Isaac, UN Volunteer Associate Field Officer with UNHCR, DRC

For award winner Tereza Nega Michael, "it is not about what you have, or what you have accomplished. It’s about who you have lifted, who you have made better. It’s about what you’ve given back."

Emma Webb, Chief, External Relations and Communications Section at UNV, was on the Award Selection panel, along with representatives of UNHCR’s seven regional bureaus.

Our winners lead the way in showing that change is something we must all take responsibility for. By working together, we build trust, generate new ideas to solve problems and strengthen our ties of solidarity. Emma Webb, Chief, External Relations and Communications Section, UNV

Together, the UN Volunteers recognized this year exemplify how volunteerism is at the heart of making a difference in the world.

UNV warmly congratulates the UNHCR Volunteer Service Award winners of 2021:

  • Ella Virtanen, UN Volunteer Associate Protection Officer, Mexico
  • Tereza Nega Michael, UN Volunteer Associate Reporting Officer, Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh
  • Rehana Bashir Butt, UN Volunteer Associate Supply Officer, Kenya
  • Ndifor isi Isaac, UN Volunteer Associate Field officer, DRC
  • Hongwieh Joyce Pie, UN Volunteer Associate WASH Officer, Burkina Faso
  • Doctors beyond Refugees, Jordan
  • Vitali Kudrynskyi, UN Volunteer Associate Protection Officer, Armenia

This article was prepared with the kind support of Online Volunteer Helen Maccan.