umoja orphanage Kenya
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:
Peace was our best theme yet. Probably because the world doesn’t have enough of it, but most of us want it. Read our winner Disha’s Peace Essay, second and third place Kirsten’s Stirring and Left Behind; all thoughtful, relevant examples of peace.
Let us all strive to be more peaceful daily, not just at times like Christmas – always. Peace is not just about preventing wars, it’s about creating a harmonious world. That world may just start with your household, your neighbourhood, your state or your country. While we are in hiatus we wish you all peace and happiness.
And if you are trying to think of a gift that keeps on giving this Christmas there are lots of ideas at the Umoja Products Page, including Christmas Cards and Child Sponsorship.
We are proud to announce third place in the Umoja Writing Competition 2016.
Comments from our judges:
“This narrative really captured my attention and pulled at the hear strings. This is the job of a narrative. Well-structured and flowed well.”
“This was probably my top pick. I like the descriptive language and, yes, I did shed a tear or two. I felt like I was in the room with them. I also think the theme ‘peace’ was used perfectly.”
Now it’s your turn to read our third placed entry. Please let us know what you think in the comments below. You could also congratulate Kirsten on her writing.
Left Behind by Kirsten Leggett from Tasmania
I sat beside her bed with her hand in mine; hers wrinkled with age and with lines of wisdom etched into the folds. Her skin was thin these days, speckled with the countless hours in the sun, the time spent tending gardens, pegging washing on the line, holding the hands of her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I was here to say goodbye, to my grandmother but I could not seem to find the words. We had never had this problem in the past. Talking was never hard, like the heaviness of this moment, as though my heart was being dragged along the bottom of the ocean floor dredging up memories. Now, I felt the weight of this moment above me, bearing down on the inevitable.
She motioned with her free hand towards the drawer beside her bed, her eyes barely open and fixed on mine.
“Everyone must leave something behind,” she whispered. “My journal is yours darling; my last gift to you. You will know what to do with it when the time is right.”
I reached into the drawer and my fingers found the familiar feel of the black leather, smooth and worn from the years of my grandmother’s touch. I had run my hand over its surface so many times over the years, as I sat with her in her living area where she would write in the morning sun that streamed through her window. The past few years she had been documenting so much of her life, and the pages were brimming with memories, the ones too precious to abandon. I brought it out of its resting place and under the low light opened the cover. The scent of my grandmother rose from the pages, a blend of talcum powder and French lavender clinging to the animal hide that formed the bookends to her past. Each page was meticulously marked with a date, a memory, a reminder of a life lived. She no longer battled against the ailing this and failing that. That war was over. She had arrived at this place of surrender, and willingly so it seemed from the outside. She was done.
I can still hear the phantom words of the nursing staff; a gentle touch on my shoulder. “She will be at peace soon.”
Peace? A word so often associated with conflict and resolution I thought.
My grandmother’s words echoed in my conscience, “Life is not meant to be a battle. It is a joy, hardships and all. Embrace them as you would a new born child. We are the product of our life experience”.
I turned the page to see a photograph of my grandmother in her twenties, perched on the hood of a car, smiling into the sun as though she had just discovered the meaning of life, shards of light dancing around her, captured through the lens. It was the same photo that sat on top of her piano, nestled deep inside the confines of a mahogany frame, the one that lights up with the morning rays, and then fades back to a lingering memory as the sun passes over rooftops to settle in the west.
I wondered what I would leave behind, when it was time for me to leave this earth. How long would I linger in the memories of those I love? I know for a fact that I will always live on in the hearts of my children, and their children should I be lucky enough to see them born into this world. I wonder if I too will marvel at how advanced children are these days and how much has changed with the passing of time. With emerging wisdom will I see how precious each moment is, and treasure each milestone as they first smile, grow their first tooth and stumble and totter as they find their feet in this world? Their children may not remember me for I will be just a name, another story of a loved mother and grandmother like an ancient legend read from the pages of a story book. I would be no more than words left on pages, the source of genetic markers and colloquial sayings, my sentiments passed like a baton through generations.
Yet somehow, amongst this wondering I know my essence will remain, in the walls of the house I loved, the saplings that grew tall under my nurturing, and on the mountain trails I walked. Here I will linger, where the flowers burst forth under the mounting pressure of spring, where others too will pass, stop and stoop low to rest a paper thin petal on the tip of their finger and say, “My, look how beautiful you are.” I wonder, on the day that my spirit returns home, will the forest dance and sway in the mountain mist and whisper on the wind “Yes, she found it, all that she had been longing for.”
As I turn another page, a flattened sprig of lavender falls to my lap and my grandmother closes her eyes. I kiss her gently on the forehead. “I see you found it too,” and we sat in the presence of peace, together, just one more time.
Congratulations to Kirsten for again entering a well-written and engaging story. It was a pleasure to read it.
The shortlist for Umoja Writing Competition is decided by our judge Deb Lawrence who is a wonderful educator and deputy principal and myself. Thanks again to Deb for being involved in the Umoja Writing Competition.
Our shortlisted entries are in no particular order:
Peace – an essay
Congratulations to these entries. Very soon you’ll find out who wrote them and be able to read them on this blog.
We’d also like to than all the writers who entered. Though you may have not been shortlisted it doen’t mean you aren’t all talented writers. The standard was exceptionally high. Keep writing and enjoying the creative process.
Lots of people think writers live in a dream world, constantly thinking up stories.
It’s not really like that because there’s a lot of thinking that never turns into a story. Ideas twist and turn around a writer’s brain a bit like clay in a sculptures hand, until those ideas turn into actual writing.
Sometimes getting a story down takes years, like a researched novel or life story. Sometimes a story takes moments of scribbled ideas.
It doesn’t matter where your thinking goes as long as you don’t procrastinate. If you procrastinate you can kid yourself that you will write that story one day (and never actually do it).
So even if your thinking hasn’t got you to a full-formed story, just start writing. If you don’t put pen to paper or start tapping on the keyboard your ideas will forever remain in your brain and you can never share them that way.
It’s just like this competition. If you have been thinking you had plenty of time to start and you’re still thinking about it – start your writing now.
And on that note – get your entry in before it’s too late.
Remember this competition is about encouraging writing but it’s also a fundraiser for Umoja Orphanage Kenya. Please help them by entering.
Time is slipping away. Tick, tock ticking away.
Have you started your entry yet? How long do you take to draft a story, edit and polish it? Weeks? Days? What about months?
There’s just two months left before our 26th August closing date. Stop reading this and get writing.
To give you some inspiration here’s another writing quote:
I hope this has encouraged you to enter but if you’re not convinced, think about the children of the Umoja Orphanage Kenya where all funds raised from this competition go to. Cathy and her team have done a wonderful job so far and will open the doors to the children very soon. Though of course, more money is needed for their ongoing care and to create their sustainable orphanage.
Ready and set to write your entry for Umoja Writing Competition 2016?
If not, start thinking about our theme ‘Peace’. Plenty to write about there. We all hope for a peaceful planet full of love and happiness, so what better theme for this year’s writing competition. Begin your entry today.
I am very pleased to announce the commencement of our 2016 competition to fundraise for Umoja Orphanage Kenya in a literary way. We’ve added poetry to our usual entries of either short fiction, essay or travel article up to 1,000 words. There’s plenty of scope for all sorts of writers. We’d love you to get involved. Please pass the competition details on to your fellow writing friends, groups and networks. The more entries we receive the more money we raise for Umoja Orphanage Kenya and that’s what we are aiming for.
Founder of the Umoja Orphanage, Cathy Booth is excited that there is a good possibility the house will be finished by April, so we can intake our first children. It’s taken since 2011 to get to that point from conception to welcoming the orphans into their new home. There’s plenty of people lending a hand, volunteering, building, planting, digging trenches, installing tanks and all sorts of things to make the orphanage come together – unity (umoja). Read more at: Progress so far.
Congratulations and a big thanks to everyone involved, but we still need funds, at least $10,000 (and of course it’s ongoing). If we could raise that much with this writing competition how great would that be – what satisfaction every entrant would feel having helped by entering and donating their entry fee?
Our Writing Competition starts today
This year we’ve changed the format and prizes slightly. We offered prize money previously, but we found our winners always donated it back, so it wasn’t the prize money that made people enter. It was a love of writing and a need to help those less fortunate than us. See our new Entry Form page for full information on how to enter. It’s a minimum of $10 entry but you’re welcome to pay more if you can afford to or want to. Both winners so far have progressed with their writing dreams since their wins – Winners.
If you’re a Rotary member you may have heard Cathy speaking about the cause. As if she isn’t busy enough when a school year finishes but then she gives her free time to talk at Rotary Clubs around the country about the project. If you want to know more sign up for the Newsletter.