Two UN Volunteers were among the recipients of the Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa Award for Volunteer Work this year. Established in 2009 by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Isa Award seeks to honour individuals and organizations around the globe that have served humanity in a profound way, so that their exceptional, selfless and tireless contribution does not go unnoticed.
Eighteen such individuals and organizations received the award at a ceremony on the occasion of Arab Volunteer Day, 15 September. The ceremony was presided over by Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali Al Khalifa, and included two UN Volunteers, Dr Asma Bilal Hanif (Pakistan) and Dmytro Say (Ukraine).
Asma is a UNV Neurosurgeon currently serving in Malawi under the UNDP/UNV Doctors programme. Dmytro is a UNV Youth Development Specialist serving with the Youth Development through Football project in his home country, implemented by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Sport and Development, the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Football Federation of Ukraine.
The award ceremony was preceded by a welcome reception on 14 September with Sheikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, the patron of the award and honorary President of the Good Word Society, which works to promote volunteerism and youth engagement in Bahrain. Sheikh Isa greeted each of the award recipients, as well as delegations representing the sixteen member states of the Arab Federation for Voluntary Activities (AFVA).
At the reception, Asma said, “I am honoured with the recognition and award I am receiving. When I started working in hospital in Malawi, people were wary of a UN Volunteer doctor, they were not sure what to expect. Over the past few years I have built trust and been able to prevent so many trauma-related deaths with better equipment, donated by family, friends and other generous people. I hope the visibility linked to this award will encourage more people to donate equipment and medication for the hospitals in Malawi.”
Addressing the award ceremony, UNV’s Senior Portfolio Manager for the Arab States, Ibrahim Hussein, congratulated the recipients for their unfailing commitment to contribute to their societies with no expectation of reward. He also welcomed the leading role played by the AFVA in recognizing and promoting voluntary engagement in the Arab States. UNV will provide the AFVA with the technical support and expertise to take the Sheikh Isa Award from the regional to an international level.