40 years a volunteer: Seychellois woman wins first volunteer of the year award
Rosemary Elizabeth (third from left) has founded five non-governmental organizations and has been involved with a dozen others -- all focused on promoting gender equality and women empowerment. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A Seychellois woman who is passionate about promoting gender equality and women empowerment has been voted Seychelles’ volunteer of the year, clinching the top prize of the first volunteer award organized by the local civil society body, Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS).
Rosemary Elizabeth was presented with a 100,000 Seychelles rupee prize [around $7,700] among other rewards on Wednesday last week. This was during a ceremony held at the Constance Ephelia Resort, on the western side of the Seychelles main island, Mahe.
In an interview with SNA on Friday, Elizabeth said: “I am happy because I feel that my efforts have not been in vain.”
“Even if I was not doing it for the reward, I am happy that there are people who appreciate my work,” she added.
|Rosemary Elizabeth receiving her certificate from the hands of the Seychelles Vice President Vincent Meriton. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Elizabeth, 67, has been involved in volunteer work over the last 40 years. She has founded five non-governmental organizations and has been involved with a dozen others -- all focused on promoting gender equality and women empowerment.
She attributed her most influential work to her involvement with two of those organization -- the Alliance of Solidarity for the Family (ASSF) and the Women in Action and Solidarity Organization (WASO).
According to Elizabeth, ASFF made tremendous contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and contributed to the creation of the family tribunal and revision on the domestic violence law.
“WASO was the first NGOs dealing with gender issues to submit a project and receive financing with the European Union to build capacity, partnership and empowering women," she said. "The success of this project is evident with the many women who are now entrepreneurs."
Although past the Seychelles’ official retirement age of 63, Elizabeth is determined to keep on going for as long as she can.
“I feel like I still have a lot to give. I’m still strong, and most importantly as long as God blesses me with good health, I will continue [doing volunteer work].”
Elizabeth was in fact among 13 nominees – 11 women and two men—vying for the first volunteer of the year award.
|Thirteen volunteers associated with volunteer work were nominated for the first volunteer award organized by the local civil society body, Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
All 13 nominees were presented with certificates, and aside of the first prize, the panel of judges also designated Marie-Nella Azemia as the runner-up of the 2016 volunteer award.
Azemia, 60, is the chairperson of the International Friendship League (Seychelles) which she founded 19 years ago, and has been recognized for her work in promoting peace and friendship particularly among women.
She also played a pivotal role during the transition of the Liason Unit of Non-Governmental Organizations of Seychelles (LUNGOS) to the Civil Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS). This was during her years as chairperson of LUNGOS, from 2012 to 2014.
“The best part about helping people is seeing results, seeing someone you have helped find a solution to his or her problems,” Azemia told SNA.
“So this award is something very significant for me because the government and members of non-governmental organizations have recognized the work that has been done as well as the sacrifices made,” she added.
|Marie-Nella Azemia the runner-up of the 2016 volunteer award. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Several local companies contributed prizes for the award which included cash rewards, air tickets and trophies.
The first volunteer award was aimed at encouraging more people to show interest in volunteerism. CEPS has not yet decided on the frequency of organizing such an award.