Umoja writing competition 2016

Disha shares her winner’s trophy

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Our 2016 winner Disha Raval received her trophy this week and this is what she had to say about it:

When I cut the packet open, I was absolutely stunned! I took a long look at it and the first thing that I said was, “WOW!” I felt, for a second, that I was dreaming! I felt (and I still am) extremely elated and quite thrilled to finally have my trophy!

I would like to thank ‘ Sunrise Rotary Club Bundaberg for sponsoring this amazing Project and Ms. Cathy Booth of Umoja Orphanage for doing such a wonderful thing for a wonderful cause.

I would also like to thank my Mum and Dad for supporting me through anything and everything that I do and lastly, I would like to thank all my teachers and everyone else that has supported me through anything I do.

I hope to continue writing as a passion and one day inspire someone else.

Thanks a Million.

Disha Raval winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2016

Disha with her trophy for winning Umoja Writing Competition 2016.

If you would like more information about the Umoja Orphanage Project Kenya please click on this link.

 

Second Place Umoja Writing Competition 2016 – Stirring

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Second Place Umoja Writing Competition 2016 – Stirring by Kirsten Leggett of Tasmania.

This is the first year we’ve included poetry and the first time a poem has been shortlisted. Of course you’ve heard of Kirsten before because she is last year’s winner. Congratulations to Kirsten for another wonderful entry. It looks like she will have a bright future in writing of all genres. Here is what the judges thought:

“Fabulous use of visual imagery, nouns, groups and figurative language. A fantastic poem, well written. Poems of this quality are difficult to write.”

“Poems, like all art, are subjective. I enjoyed the flow and wording and found it quite beautiful.”

 

STIRRING

 

The mountain looked beautiful this morning  as the first rays of the sun  bounced off its snowy face,  its blushing cheeks turned skyward  in the presence of peace.

 

I thought of you nestled in the gentle folds of its rocky slopes,  on the leeward side tucked up in the warmth of blankets,  dreams forming into memory.

 

Did you stir as the Currawong  opened its eyes to a new day?

Perched in the forest that nudges your door.

Its feathers ruffled by frost bitten breath.

 

Did you sense the stealth of the winter air  rolling over the mountain?

Overwhelming tree tops to seep under doors  and slide between the crack that wedges dawn.

 

Did you pull the blanket a little closer  to grasp another minute,

 

two or three,  and linger in the gentle rhythm  of the rising sun and the falling moon?

On this perfect day.

 

Did you feel as though you were held,  just there,  in that moment in time  against the heaving heart of Mother Earth?  If only for a second, with nothing but bricks and mortar between you.

Third place is ‘Left Behind’ by last year’s winner Kirsten Leggett

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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.