Guest Bloggers

How our winner writes

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We asked Umoja Writing Competition 2015 winner Kirsten Leggett to contribute to our blog. It’s another opportunity for our entrants to showcase their writing and be involved in the wider writing and volunteering community.

How our winner writes

I write to understand. It is as simple as that and it is a form of internal processing for me. I love to write, I always have, but my creative writing really ramped up a notch when I started with daily ten minute writing using word prompts. Just a few words, five at the most, and I would wait for the first sentence to form but without too much thought. Once I start to write, I do not stop for ten minutes and I pay little attention to punctuation – just let the words flow. I try not to think about it too much and let it come from the heart.

I continued with this practice for about 6 months straight and now I write this way several times a week. It still works, every time, and I never know how each piece will end. The ending is always the most surprising bit! Sometimes I write beyond ten minutes, other times a little less, but the end result is always surprising and from these exercises stories are often born.  A friend once asked me where I draw my inspiration from. I explained that I never set out to write a story, that words and inspiration generally find me when I allow myself the time to be still. A story or words for a poem can “arrive” at any time, while on a walk, driving in the car, or sitting and enjoying a pot of tea in my garden, but always in moments of stillness.

I have learnt that as humans we can do the most amazing things with words. I think we are born to listen to and tell stories and there is a storyteller deep within each and every one of us.

Kirsten lives and writes in Tasmania. A writer of short stories and poetry, she writes for both enjoyment and for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. “The Tiny Teacher” was Kirsten’s first short story. Most recent published writing includes “Interloper” (101 and “Pear Infused with Jasmine” (Flash Fiction Magazine). 

Umoja Writing Competition winner Kirsten Leggett
Kirsten Leggett is the winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2015. Here she is with the winner’s trophy.

Thank you to those who entered Umoja Writing Competition 2015

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2015 Umoja Writing Competition Closed

Thank you to everyone who entered in 2015

To raise much needed funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya we need to make this competition a success. This year we gave entrants longer to enter and marketed and promoted heavily with writing groups, schools, writing sites and social media. With times being tough, even here in Australia (though of course nowhere near as tough as Kenya) we believe people are finding it harder to find an extra $25. Entries were down which is disappointing. It leads to the question: do you think we should reduce the entry fee next year? Would more people enter?

Warm & Witty Words has donated the prize money and Literacy Consultant Deb Lawrence has donated the trophy, so a big THANK YOU for your support. We hoped the prize money and trophy would encourage people to enter, but this hasn’t seemed to be the case either, or more people would enter. We’d love feedback about why writers enter writing competitions. Is it for the writing profile? We are entering our third year and have plenty of supporters and good feedback so I believe we are creating a literary profile for any winners of the competition. Why haven’t more of you entered?

For instance, in only the first year, winner, Lauren Dionysius, has received plenty of writing opportunities since her win, including a an overseas writer’s retreat. You can build your profile through this competition, and have the added bonus of doing something good for society by helping Umoja Orphanage Kenya.

Next year please enter and encourage your writing friends to enter. Even if you’ve never entered a writing competition, enter. You just may find your writing passion.

Thanks again to those who entered. Be assured all your entries fees go directly back to the Umoja Orphanage Kenya, because prize money and trophy have been donated by Warm & Witty Words and Literacy Consultant Deb Lawrence.

Short listed entries will be announced shortly. Good luck to our entries.


Things I have learned: Part 3….African People

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Things I have learned:  Part 3….African People

by Guest Blogger Lauren Dionysius

African School Children

  • wealth and happiness has nothing to do with stuff and things
  • some of the “poorest” people in the world have the richest souls that ooze generosity
  • there are school kids in today’s world who have to climb through a barbed wire fence so they can wee in the grass next door

Old African Man Mother and Child Two cuties

  • teaching a class of Zulu children about warthogs is surprisingly rewarding
  • it took all of my restraint not to go around wiping all the little Zulu kids’ noses
  • playing soccer against the local Zimbabwean woman with the kids cheering us on is actually a lot of fun, despite my lack of skill and coordination
  • Zimbabweans are always just about to ‘make a plan, yeh?’…though often they just never quite get around to it…
  • when in Africa you’ve just gotta make do with what and who you have…improvisation is the key
  • the average Kenyan nurse earns less than US$300 a month
  • the Masai’s staple diet consists of cow’s blood and milk

Delicious food

  • the Masai people build their huts out of cow poo

African Hut

  • it’s amazing how much stuff the locals can fit onto the back of a bicycle!
  • a Malawian witch doctor is one scary looking dude!
  • do not question Mr Frederick, the scary South African immigration guy, or he will yell at you…loudly…twice
  • the bushman tribes use tortoise shells to boil their porcupines in…very intuitive!
  • people of all types are very interesting creatures
  • do not leave your legs dangling over the side of the ute when driving past kids…they will slap your shins and leave nasty bruises
  • 60% of people living in rural Malawi are unemployed
  • Africans work hard to preserve their ancient cultures for generations to come
  • and finally, Africans put the “unity” in “community”

Happy kids Lauren with kids More cute kids

And we know what unity means ‘Umoja’. So now it’s time to follow Lauren’s lead and get your entries in to:


Thank you so much to Lauren for her wonderful contributions in helping this blog get out to the writing community and make our fundraising writing competition a success.