Yesterday evening, Thursday 22 November, Progressio staff, supporters and our two finalists in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition, Rob Trask and Charlotte Maugham, gathered at the Royal Academy of Art to find out who had won the overall award.

Nele Mailin Obermueller was announced as the winner of the professional journalist category, with her piece on health clinics in Sierra Leone, whilst Lucy-Anne Mizen won the amateur category.  

It was fantastic to meet so many people interested in spreading the word about development issues and bringing the voices of those too easily ignored to wider audiences. 

Despite not winning the overall prize we were delighted that the themes sponsored by Progressio, of women’s rights and people’s response to climate change in poor countries, received the highest amount of entries to the competition.

Our two finalists, Rob and Charlotte, both had an incredible time in Malawi and Timor-Leste respectively. 

Rob was tasked with writing about the role faith communities can play in tackling HIV in Malawi. He was particularly impressed by the work of MANERELA+, the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV/AIDS. Rob recalls that, “On the approach to the church one morning we stop to pick up a Christian pastor who is walking with two female Islamic leaders. If this wasn't novel enough, the subject for today's meeting is HIV/AIDS.” Illustrating how faith groups are uniting to tackle the issue of HIV.

Charlotte investigated how women in Timor-Leste are challenging the poverty and inequality they face every day. Luciana Pereirra, one of the many inspiring women Charlotte met in Timor-Leste, told her “It is good that women are at last represented in the council, but the men send us outside to make tea when it’s our turn to speak because they don’t take us seriously.”  Luciana explained how the women of her village are keen to be more independent, saying, “We want to learn to write proposals for grants – only the men can do this, so we don’t always get what we want.”  Slowly but surely positive changes are occurring in Timor-Leste, driven by the women who live on the front line of poverty and human rights. 

Of his trip to Malawi Rob said, “It was incredible. I was really taken with Malawi. I’ve been to other places in Africa, but Malawi was really different and although it was quite tough and intense, being able to speak to people about their lives and some very sensitive issues was a real privilege.”

Charlotte thought that her time in Timor-Leste had been, “An amazing experience. Although there were some similarities to Papua where I’ve also spent a lot of time, Timor-Leste was also very different, very unique. I had so many questions to ask and people were generally quite open and wanted to share their stories with me, which was great.” 

Charlotte added, “The work Progressio are doing there is so important, you can see what a difference it’s making to people there. It was hard to photograph ‘capacity building’ but I definitely saw it in action.”

You can read Charlotte and Rob’s articles, along with the features written by other finalists,  online and in special supplements in the Guardian which will be published next Monday (26 November) and Wednesday (28 November).

You can also see what Rob and Charlotte had to say whilst they were in Timor-Leste and Malawi by reading their blogs.

Thank you to the Progressio teams in Timor-Leste and Malawi, as well as our partners, who all helped to make both trips such a success – and inspire fantastic articles about important issues. 

Photo shows our two finalists Rob Trask and Charlotte Maugham at the awards evening. (Taken by Lucy Jenkinson).