The countdown begins to our winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2015.
This year we’ll announce third and upload the entry for you to read. We’ll then post second and, finally, first place. The quality of entries was very high and I’d like to thank our judges Deborah Lawrence, teacher and literacy consultant (and also the sponsor of our trophy) and Shanyn Limpus, communications officer for Umoja Orphanage Kenya. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to judge our entries.
Drum roll please (African drums), ta da da!
Third place: A CUP OF WATER by Judith Howe.
A big congratulations to Judith from Coombabah, Queensland. Here is her entry:
A Cup of Water
by Judith Howe
The small being crouched in terror as horrifying scenes of war unfolded around her. She heard terrible noises and explosions the smoke and found smells choked her. Terrible screams penetrated the blackness. She was alone. The turmoil stopped while darkness engulfed her.
People shadows moved quickly rescuing survivors. This helpless being was just one of thousands caught up in the destructive mess left behind by man and his war. Small forms merged with hers as they gathered and jostled along.
The frightened child heard voices and sounds she didn’t understand. Waiting and squatting in the dirt with the others ‘little one’ was mesmerised by the patches of filtered gold sunlight which flicked in and out of the rubble near her feet. Eventually her treasure was blotted out and the magic disappeared.
Moments later she was lifted, squashed and pushed in among other helpless, not, wriggling and smelly beings like herself. Some were crying. She wasn’t. She felt sick and her arm was sore. There were loud noises again, movement, then rocking and bumping and a roaring mechanical sound that went on and on as did the distress of the mass of humanity she was contained in. Their bodies fused as they endured the long rough journey to freedom.
There was a jolt and a screeching of metal. The movement and bumping stopped. The casualties of war cried out fearing the unknown. ‘Little one’ couldn’t her throat was aching and dry.
Humanity moved and slowly and gently she was lifted up then set down on the sweet-smelling grass with the others and positioned in line. Her legs moved automatically along the path. Then there was a halt. Fearfully she looked around. Other eyes mirrored her own. The faces all looked the same. Frightened, bewildered, sad, strained and dirty.
People shadows came near her, one crouched beside her and clasped her hand. A soft voice spoke in sounds she had heard before. She slowly raised her head and with heavy-lidded watery eyes she saw a smiling mouth. Kind eyes nodded at her. She tried to move her tongue to say something but words couldn’t form.
The warm hand guided her to a large room where other beings like herself were bathed and showered. Stood motionless. These shadows were people with kind eyes and soft smiles, some wore white coats and uniforms, they were helping everyone. To ‘little one’ this was a ‘happy place’.
Her feet were cleaned and the cut toes bandaged. The arm examined and now wrapped in a big firm white bandage. A lady person with smiling eyes helped her to dress. The dress was cean and had bright yellow flowers all over it. The under-things were of the same material. She rarely wore under-things because her family were poor. Though she still hung her head she could see piles of dirty rags and clothing in the far corner of the room.
‘Little one’ had never owned a brush or a ribbon. Another smiling lady person tied the ribbon and chuckled as she saw the delighted response. The child remembered her mother from the other time and stroked her dress with affection. The cloth felt clean and nice.
After the bathing, dressing and medical treatment the group of children stood together in a long hall-way. Several younger grown-up people appeared and led them to another large room bathed in sunshine and brightness. There were rows and tables and benches where many small beings or children we can call them now, were already eating and drinking.
‘Little one’ sat down at one of the tables, the bench seemed smoother than the one she used in her village home. Her own had splinters. Her father had made it long ago before the blackness and horror.
The smells were different here. There was a familiar fresh bush smell, a smell of cleanliness or disinfectant as we know it and above all the smell of food. The smell of death and destruction was erased. The shock of past happenings, the violent separations had left this small child exhausted and numb yet she still responded to help and love. Fragments of her previous life were with her. She existed.
Food was served on a plate before her. Another lady person with smiling eyes helped the food to her mouth. It was good. Around her other small beings ate, talked and laughed. She wasn’t sure if she could talk because her throat was too sore from screaming and crying during the horror.
Another helper placed a mug of water near her plate. ‘Little one’ nodded and managed a weak smile. The water held her interest. It was almost invisible. She could see the bottom of the cup. She put her fingers in it and to her delight the surface rippled. She had never see water like this. It wasn’t brown and dirty. There was no rubbish, twigs or goat droppings floating about like her village water. The smell was different. She glanced up and down the long table, other faces had their mugs up to their mouths enjoying the taste of real unpolluted water.
She did the same. Smiling eyes came closer to her face. Her own lips moved and her eyes responded. She felt life. The fact that she was alone in the world would come later. She was blessed and pure like the water, innocent yet a product of the evil carnage man had brought to her world. Her life had been saved but could her soul be healed, would she recover, only time would tell.
Come back to see who takes out second place.