Owodunni Mustapha Named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year 2019


Owodunni, known as Ola, is an asylum seeker living in the Old Convent – Direct Provision Centre in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, for more than five years. Educated in Political Science in Nigeria but prohibited to engage in employment, she committed to give her skills, passion, potential and energy to volunteer for her fellow asylum seekers living in the Direct Provision Centre in Ballyhaunis.

In the last two years, Ola started to build herself up as a community leader by taking care and standing up for the issues and needs of other fellow residents. Her voice, resilience, leadership skills, passion for inclusion brought to life several projects and initiatives for people in the centre. Some of these initiatives include coffee mornings, Christmas voucher appeals, doantion drives, social trips and skills programmes – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Thanks to her passion for the life of the Centre’s community, Ola has succeeded in setting up a Residents Committee in the Centre. This is a very hard task to mobilise people living in the diverse environment of Direct Provision to take on leadership roles. After several attempts she succeeded to bring together a group of women who took inspiration from Ola’s commitment, drive and passion. Since setting up, the committee members are actively involved in planning and bringing to life the inclusion and integration projects and initiatives. For example they organised a fantastic Intercultural Day in Ballyhaunis in July this year.

Ola has become a passionate and prominent voice of her fellow residents. She has spoken widely on the injustices of Direct Provision system, issues asylum seekers experience in Ireland and their willingness to integrate and contribute to local life. She also write poetry and recently contributed to the Irish anthology project that will be launched in November and wrote a contribution for MASI’s journal.

Volunteer Ireland Awards Shortlist and Winners 2019

Animals & Environment

  • Lynn & Michael Christianson, Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, Limerick *WINNER*
  • Annie King, WWOOF Ireland, Cork
  • Andy O’Dowd, Longford Tidy Towns, Longford

Read their stories…

Arts, Culture & Media

  • Orla Brannigan, Comhaltas Drogheda, Louth
  • Aaron Duffy, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Louth
  • John Paul Payne, Carlow Pride Festival, Carlow *WINNER*

Read their stories…

Campaigning & Awareness Raising

  • Liz Collins, DEBRA Ireland, Dublin
  • Lexie Delaney, Inner City Helping Homeless and North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis Community, Dublin
  • John Fox, Pieta House and Tallaght Athletics Club, Dublin *WINNER*

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  • Patricia Keane, Various Organisations, Galway *WINNER*
  • Eddie Phelan, Various Organisations, Louth
  • Ken Smollen, Ken Smollen Food Appeal, Offaly

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Children & Youth

  • Sandra Maguire, Coder Dojo, Dublin *WINNER*
  • Patrick Mills, Solas Project Justice Team, Dublin
  • Mick Whelan, Foróige, Tipperary

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Health & Disability

  • Eric Beggs, Fighting Blindness, Louth *WINNER*
  • Gertrude Howley, GROW in Ireland, Waterford
  • Robin Winkels, Row to Recovery, Galway

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Safety & Emergency Services

  • Padraig Allen, St John Ambulance, Dublin
  • Frank Heidtke, Dingle Coast Guard, Kerry
  • James Lafferty, Irish Red Cross, Clare *WINNER*

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Social Work & Social Inclusion

  • Liz Davey, Inner City Helping Homeless, Belfast and Dublin
  • Marian Merrick, Croí na Gaillimhe, Galway *WINNER*
  • Owodunni Mustapha, Social Inclusion and Supports to Asylum Seekers, Mayo

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Sports & Recreation

  • Aideen Dowling, Special Olympics Leinster, Kildare
  • Martin Quinn, Canon Hayes Recreation Centre, Tipperary
  • Azeez Yusuff, Sport Against Racism Ireland, Dublin *WINNER*

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Volunteer Manager

  • Andy Cullen, Husky Rescue Ireland, Laois *WINNER*
  • Gerry Maguire, Reserve Defence Forces, Laois
  • Nicola Sandgrove Coss, All Abilities, Laois

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Outstanding Group

  • Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park, Wesmeath
  • Irish Red Cross – Tralee Branch, Kerry *WINNER*
  • Victim Support At Court, Dublin

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