Umoja Writing Competition in Hiatus for 2017
Due to extensive commitments in 2017 the Umoja Writing Competition will be in Hiatus for 2017. We will be back in 2018 so practice your writing and be ready to enter from February 2018.
Thank you to everyone who contributed since our beginning in 2014. You can read about why the competition was started at ABOUT. The main reason being; raising funds for the Umoja Orphanage Project Kenya.
We will still be posting writing tips and posts so please keep coming back.
You can still help the orphanage by donating:
First place goes to ‘Peace Essay’ by Disha P Raval who is a Kenyan Citizen who is an Australian resident.
Disha is only 11 years old and turns 12 at the end of the month. We are super excited to announce Disha’s entry ‘Peace Essay’ as our winner. Congratulations Disha on your entry.
Here is what the judges had to say about it:
“I think the author really captured the elements of ‘peace’ and what it means to humanity. Some well-supported ideas that kept me engaged when reading.”
“The author has contemplated what peace means. The writer obviously has researched our theme and produced a well structured piece of writing. I believe this writer feels passionately about peace.”
With no further ado, here is Disha’s entry:
Both in the world and every community, we need to have peace. All human beings share the same needs and there are many ways that we can make peace in our community and spread it around the world. We don’t always need a large group to make this difference. Even the smallest groups can start making a change and spread it to everyone just like Mahatma Gandhi Ji of India, also known as the advocate of peace, who says; “ There is no way to peace; peace is the only way”.
Peace building, conflict resolution, conflict prevention, whichever term you use, sits uneasily within one particular field, discipline, or government department for that matter. Is it development, foreign policy, diplomacy, defence and security, justice and human rights, any or all of the above?
It seems like the more a society advances, the less peace there seems to be. Gone are the days of just sitting under a tree and thinking about life. There’s Twitter feeds to read, Facebook statuses to update, videos to take and upload on YouTube, drama to indulge in, gossip to listen to and spread, advertising bombarding us everywhere. It seems like we’re soaked in figurative and literal noise all the time. Peace seems to have gone by the wayside but it’s very important we have it in our lives because how many great decisions do you make when you’re not at peace?
The issue of war and peace has always been a focal issue in all periods of history and at all levels relations among nations. The concern of the humankind for peace can be assessed by taking into account the fact that all religions, all religious scriptures and several religious ceremonies are committed to the cause of peace and all these advocate an elimination of war.
Peace is very important in our lives and it is essential to our overall well-being. However, this is something that has, regrettably, eluded us for years and years in this world. This world been hindered by war, conflicts and disagreements throughout human history, which has left our world and the many people in it in a deplorable emotional and physical state. This should not be the case.
Even in the places where the guns are silent, there is still a form of conflict going on in many places which is obviously going to have negative effects on the future society and spark more wars and conflicts in this world. The result of not having peace is very common and near to us. There is almost one or two instances of terrorism, destruction, violence, disease and refugee crisis reported on television, newspapers and social media. Despite peace being such a clear concept in one’s mind, it seems to be drifting away and becoming more and more challenging to achieve as individuals, communities, societies and nations. To prevent continued cycles of violence, education must be promoted for peace, tolerance and understanding to help create a better society for all.
There has always been an emphasis on the undesirable effects of not having peace. Nations and alliances continue to shamelessly spend resources to research on new technologies and warfare. They continue arming themselves with unnecessary ammunition without adequate soul searching as to how conflict can be resolved and peace achieved in the long term.
The concept of peace is unique for every individual however, the formula of peace remains steadfastly in the universal teachings of humanity, which have been prescribed in almost all the religions of this world. It is common practice for such teachings to be interpreted differently and negatively to suit different situations. On an individual level, we see more and more instances of people suffering from diseases as a result of not being peaceful.
One thing that is critically needed to create more peace in the world would be seeking love and not trying to control other people. Trying to control people for one’s own benefit will solely cause conflicts with others. Reducing control by listening to everyone’s opinions and hearing what they have to say is going to broaden the approach of love to others; be it a peer or another country. Another thing that is also critically needed to help restore peace is placing peace before power because having peace is very crucial. There are other ways like respecting opinions and beliefs that contrasts the idea to “control” people using threatening behaviour.
In addition, in today’s world, everyone needs to be tolerant. Tolerance in all that we think and do is going to make a difference in our lives and the lives around us. Tolerance towards others is appreciating the diversity and the beliefs of different people. When we fail to tolerate others’ beliefs, ways of being and opinions, the ending results can be ultimately violent.
Lastly, the last point that is very important is seeking forgiveness and not revenge. Where does an eye for an eye lead? Usually, too many eyes are missing! No matter where we live, what religion we practice or what culture we cultivate, at the heart of it all, we are humans with the same ambitions and aspirations to raise our families and wanting to live our lives to the fullest. Our cultural, religious or political differences should not be the reason to bring conflicts, grief and destruction to our world.
There are many things that could be done to make peace throughout the world that haven’t been addressed yet. I think that we should all start on making a difference and making our communities peaceful all around the world. We should start making our world peaceful and non-violent. The little changes that could be made would make a very big and a very positive change to today’s world and could change numerous lives. If we try to make a difference now, then we can change communities for the better in the future. This will lead to a better and brighter future for our younger generation and peace throughout the world.
Winner of Umoja Writing Competition announced
It’s with great delight we announce the winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2016 is Disha Pankaj Raval with her essay entry ‘Peace Essay’. This entry took us by surprise with its maturity, especially after judging when we realized how young Disha was (she was born in 2004) in Nairobi Kenya. We think it’s a wonderful unexpected bonus that our winner was born in Kenya. She is proof what a good education, particularly literacy, can do for young children.
Here’s a little bit about our winner Disha.
Disha started school in kindergarten at Braeburn Imani International School, Thika, Kenya (a small place north of Nairobi) in September 2007. She finished her Kenyan schooling at Braeburn Imani International School in August 2015.
She has some interesting hobbies including:
- Poetry (reading and writing poetry)
- Playing the Piano
- Learning new Languages
- Working with tools and wires
- Exploring Technology
And her achievements so far are impressive:
- SATS award 2012
- SATS award 2014
- National Level Swimming 2014
- School Math Champ Title Holder 2014
- School Math Quiz Finalist 2014
- Highest SATS results in the School 2014
- Dance award 2015
- 56 Certificates since 2007
Disha’s Dream Career:
Flying Service Doctor
Mathematics (and we thought it was English)
How did Disha come to Australia?
(As told by Disha)
In 2010, my family decided that Migrating to Australia will prove to be a better and brighter future for me. After a couple months of extreme thinking, we decided to apply for Immigration through my dad’s educational skills. We were granted the Immigration Visa in around late 2011 and this was a very exciting time for me. We came to Australia for the very first time and I really liked it. Finally, in 2015, we decided that that was the time to move and in February 2016 we came to Australia, to stay for good. The move was pretty hectic because we had to pack up the whole of our house in Thika into boxes and travel about 20 hours to a brand new and developed place with a time difference of 7 hours! It took almost 4 months to get everything packed and ready to go but I am really enjoying it here.
My biggest inspiration is my paternal grandfather. I never got to see him as he passed when my father was 16 years old but I have heard lots of stories about him from my grandmother and I am fully inspired by the way he thought and the way he lived his life.
Disha’s favourite place to write
My favorite place to relax and write my pieces of writing are in the park and on my brown couch.
What an inspirational young woman. Congratulations Disha. Disha’s entry with be posted to the next post. Please read it and comment. We hope this inspires people of all backgrounds and ages to write.
Please note that judges do not know who wrote what entry. All entries are judged on merit alone. Thank you to all entrants for taking part and helping us to raise much needed funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya.
We have to share the most exciting news that the first children have arrived at Umoja Orphanage Kenya. It’s five years to the day that Cathy Booth founded the project. Fundraising ventures like this writing competition contribute to the orphanage. Without these and all the wonderful volunteers the orphanage would not be available to these gorgeous kids who need a home desperately. It’s wonderful to see Cathy’s dream come to life. If you’d like to be a part of it you can encourage your friends to enter this competition. Every little bit helps. I’d like to thank those writers who have already entered, some have even entered twice and donated extra (above the small entry fee) and that is just fantastic. Time is running out so encourage your writing friends and hurry up and enter.
To read the full newsletter about the progress at Umoja Orphanage Kenya Project click on this link NEWSLETTER.
This competition is a small stone in the ocean compared to the other ways you can help the project. You can sponsor a child or equipment for the project, you can even volunteer to travel to Africa to help build the orphanage. So many options to help out. If you don’t want to enter this but want to help just go to Umoja Home to get the full story. The main reason I started this competition was to fund raise for the project but ultimately raising awareness for the project and the bigger things people can do to help is what matters, so I don’t care if you don’t enter as long as you do support the project in some way.
However, if you do love writing – why not enter?
You have the fun of testing your writing skills with the wonderful theme of ‘peace’ and you’ll feel great knowing that you’ve donated to a very worthy, wonderful cause.
I’d like to congratulate Cathy and her team for everything they’ve achieved so far. There’s so much more to do but I know they’ll do it.
And a big welcome to the Umoja children. We all hope you enjoy your new safe home (pictures of them are in the newsletter).
We always give this competition plenty of time for entrants to write and send in their entry. Don’t leave it too late though, and miss the deadline. Get working on your entry today. The theme is ‘Peace’ and in today’s world there’s plenty of scope to find a story within our theme. We all want a peaceful world and umoja is all about unity and peace. The small entry fee goes directly to the Umoja Orphanage Kenya Project.
If you would like to help us promote the competition please download the flyer and distribute where you can, your school, university, workplace, gym, library, local book store – anywhere you may find writers. Thank you in advance.
by Guest Blogger – Lauren Dionysius
Things I have learned:
- jamming people into the back of a ute is an acceptable means of transportation
- the average cactus makes for a perfectly functional clothesline
- red dirt turns to red mud in the rain
- car maintenance is overrated: 8 breakdowns in 3 days between 4 Land Cruisers is a lot, even for Africa!
- urgency does not exist: no-one is in a hurry and nothing happens quickly
- and the quicker you can adjust to (and accept!) the previous point, the easier life will be!
- don’t be fooled: ‘pap’, ‘maizemeal’ and ‘sadsa’ are all the same stuff, but different countries use different names. And while it might look like chocolate pudding, it will never, EVER taste like it, regardless of how much sugar you add!
- the ticks in Africa enjoy the taste of humans and the resulting ‘tick bite fever’ is cruel, especially in the remote African bush
- every tree in Africa has a thorn of some description
- electricity is overrated, however hot showers are NOT!
- do not visit the Tanzanian coast during Ramadan – food is scarce!
- 25 children died unnecessarily in Malawi because the hospital ran out of anti-malarial and they weren’t restocked for a month
- bean stew actually looks and tastes worse than it sounds
- the ‘toilets’ in this part of the world are on a whole new level of stink! You are better off learning to squat in the bush – just look out for thorns &, um, local kids!
- when the entire mobile and internet networks are down, Africa just keeps on going. What would Australia do?
- ‘nibblies’ in Kenya are called ‘bitings’
- sleeping out under a starry Namibian sky is a magical experience
- 1000s of seals in the one place = one giant stink (though still smells better than a Tanzanian toilet!)
- the city of Cape Town is just as beautiful the third time round as the first
- seatbelts are optional in Africa
- dust gets everywhere into EVERYTHING
- don’t underestimate the off-road capabilities of the humble mini-van – those things can go up, over and through things at speed, if given the chance!
- it is possible to survive without phone reception for two weeks. I am living proof.
- a sossusvlei is a lake in the desert between sand dunes
- a deadvlei is a dried up sossusvlei
- don’t eat tuna at the beach – you will attract lots of seagulls
- it is possible to survive (many days even!) without the internet
- I am not cut out to be a makoro poler (those little dug out canoe things in Botswana)
- Namibia is the most stunning country in Africa, that I have been to so far
- every place in Namibia starts with an ‘O’ or an ‘S’ which is very confusing!
- trekking through wild Ugandan jungle in search of gorillas is no easy feat
- there’s very little in Africa that cannot be fixed with a screwdriver and duct tape.
Why not enter today and see where it takes you?