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These 6 Stunning Photos Will Inspire You to Volunteer Your Time

International Citizen Service (ICS), a UK-funded program that lets people volunteer abroad, has just announced the winners for its annual photography competition, and the results are stunning.

Over 4,000 people voted on over 400 entries. Most of the photographs have been taken by volunteers abroad, and every print has its own story. 

Today, on International Volunteer's Day, we look through at some of the most spectacular entries. Each was a winner of their respective category, which varied from education to the environment. Get ready to be inspired.

WINNER: Greg Wallaker, Bangladesh

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VSO ICS volunteer Greg Wallaker, 21, captured this incredible moment during one of the school sessions his team ran on the border of a local community in Bangladesh. As the first cycle of volunteers working in the area, they faced a number of obstacles – but managed to create sustainable, lasting change.

“The little girl in the picture might symbolise that, amongst the fun and joyful distraction that comes with school, there still remains that beautiful, instinctual drive to learn and move forward, throughout the youth of Bangladesh,” said Wallaker.

‘Voice’  – Elizabeth Ascroft, Zambia

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Restless Development ICS volunteer Elizabeth Ascroft, 25, was working with a team delivering sexual health and rights lessons across Zambia’s Central Province. She took this great shot of a group of young local men engaging with the session and supporting women’s rights.

“Grade 11 pupils raised their voices in our sexual harassment and early pregnancy campaign. The story behind this photo is to raise awareness of Zambia's re-entry policy (where a young female should not be excluded from education whilst pregnant and after giving birth),” Ascroft explained. 

‘Enterprise’ – Hayley Pang, Tanzania

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VSO ICS volunteers like Hayley Pang, 24, were working with local entrepreneurs in Zanzibar to help grow their businesses, look at other ways to support their income and provide employment. In this picture are the three leaders of Mr Pili Pili, a chilli sauce start-up.

“Across the duration of the ICS placement, we have worked with a farmer group helping them to brand, produce, package and market some delicious chilli sauce they make with their own freshly grown produce. Before we left, we were sure to carefully select and hand over Mr Pili Pili to the farmers themselves. What a project to be part of!” said Pang.

'People’ – Lydia Daintith, Zimbabwe

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In Zimbabwe, religion is central to local communities.Progressio ICS volunteer Lydia Daintith, 20, had her camera to hand when she snapped this beautiful shot of a local woman praying to the side during a church service in her host community.

“Religion is a big part of the Zimbabwean culture and this photo captures a raw, intimate moment between a woman and her creator,” said Daintith.

'Environment’ – Arran Williott, Bangladesh

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Tearfund ICS volunteer Arran Williott, 20, was in just the right place at just the right time when he took this beautiful shot of the sun beaming down on farmland in his host community of Birishiri, Bangladesh.

“It is a day I remember very fondly, as it reminds me of the beautiful hospitality that was shown to us whilst we were there and how openly the entire community welcomed us into their lives,” said Williott.

‘Education’ – Remi Bumstead, Uganda

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For Restless Development ICS volunteer Remi Bumstead, his volunteering placement was a great opportunity to expand his skillset in teaching. As a team leader working in the Jinja & Iganga Districts of Eastern Uganda, the 26-year-old was helping to improve health outcomes for local young people.

“Each day my teams would go into schools and teach the kids about different aspects of sexual health. This was a class in a primary school about puberty. The best way to engage the students was to make the classes as interactive as possible,” explained Bumstead.