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.
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.
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.
Are you writing anything?
Anything at all? It could be a letter to a friend (probably not snail mail these days), but at least a long message on Messenger or via email. It could be a report for work. It could be a blog post. It could even be your entry for Umoja Writing Competition 2016.
If you’re not writing, why not? You are a part of this writing community of over 500 followers if you’re reading this. You are a writer aren’t you? Writers need to write.
I try to write every day, be it at work or at home. If I’ve done a lot of marketing and social media at work I’ll take a break at home and perhaps read a good book instead, but I am writing every day in some form (or writing these and other blog posts).
Writing every day hones your skills as a writer. Here’s some tricky ideas to get more writing into your day:
- Get up earlier. You can even go for a walk first to clear the head (exercise is known to boost creativity). That way you’ll have time to write before you head off to work or get the kids to school.
- Get a job involving writing (journalism, web editing, marketing – just some).
- Start a blog. You can write about the things you are passionate about.
- Join a writers group. Like-minded souls encouraging each other in their passion for writing.
- Doodle a poem on your desk pad while you’re waiting for someone.
- If you’ve read a book that had an ambiguous ending write your own.
- Write letters to your loved ones and leave them around the house so they can find them and enjoy them.
- Write a thank you note to someone who has done something kind to you.
- Volunteer at your local club to be the newsletter editor.
- Enter this competition.
Now all you have to do is choose one and get writing. We’ll give you more writing tips next week and if you have any great ideas to get people writing please COMMENT below.
If you chose to enter this competition. Get your entry form at ENTRY FORM.
Are you wondering how to win this competition?
We’ve decided to repeat the advice we gave entrants when this competition began in 2014. best advice to help you win in 21 tips. Try some of these tips to help give you a better chance:
- Adhere to traditional standards of writing such as punctuation, spelling, grammar and syntax. Particularly, if the competition is run by a school or university and more so, a publisher. Wouldn’t you like to be noticed by someone who could publish your writing? Get it right.
- Use the rules of the contest but keep creative within the given theme. If you don’t write using the theme your entry will go straight to the bottom, or the shredder. This theme ‘Peace’.
- Literature contests may be looking for originality, refinement, depth, a subtext, and intellectual use of language; an emphasis on interesting characters, and setting rather than plot. Think description over dialogue, usually. A writing competition, (rather than literature contest) will sway towards popular fiction, but many ask for essays, articles and other forms of writing so read the rules and requirements thoroughly.
- This particular competition is on the theme ‘Peace’ and since so many of us are hoping for peace in a volatile time for our planet, the theme encompasses many things, so find a unique angle. Freshness and individuality will stand out.
- A great starting paragraph and an absorbing plot that follows your main character on some sort of journey or conflict. Finish with no lose ends.
- Use the correct tense throughout the story. Don’t change from ‘has to be’ to ‘had to be’ later. It’s annoying and incorrect.
- Do not use a passive voice. Active voice will win over the judges.
- Dialogue must be believable, readable and colloquial.
- Choose an exceptional title. First impressions count but it must be relevant to the story.
- Be original. I know you’re thinking the theme takes that away, but it doesn’t. Again, be creative.
- Edit your work thoroughly with at least three drafts. I always read out loud when I think I’ve finished my last draft. This often picks up things you can no longer see because you’ve been looking at it for too long.
- Don’t confuse the judges or potential readers with too many characters in a short story.
- In short stories you have little enough word count so make each word count.
- Clichés are just that; cliché. Avoid them.
- Use strong verbs rather than adverbs.
- Fit your entry to the competition you have entered. If it’s for a women’s romance writers’ group it needs to be romance. If it’s for a mystery writers’ group it would be impossible to win without a whodunit or twisting plot.
- Don’t put your name on the manuscript. Your name goes on your entry form but not your manuscript for good reason. The judges need to read each entry on it’s merit alone. The judge wants to see writing that shines not writers.
- Format using 12 point Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica unless the competition rules specify something else. Usually double spaced and indented at the left column. Pages numbered and a word count shown.
- Competitions often give a choice between hard copy or email. Read carefully which they prefer, choose hard copy if you want to pay postage. Emailing submissions my change your formatting but as most people are computer literate now, send this way if you feel comfortable with it. Emails are a quicker way to enter if you are pushing the deadline. We prefer emailed entries where possible so we do not have to re-type if your entry wins (we are all volunteers).
- Do not bribe the judges or think that fancying up your application will help. No cute little post-it messages asking them to choose you as a winner. No hidden chocolates. Definitely no sprays of perfume that may set off my hay fever.
- Do not add pictures to your manuscript (unless of course it’s a travel feature that requires a photograph), just send a plain double spaced entry and let your writing win for you.
And finally, proofread for a final third or fourth time thoroughly. As I said before, I find reading out loud helps pick up on most errors. Make sure there are no typos. For example; use of your ears is not ‘here’ it’s ‘hear’. Check your words, check your spelling and triple check your punctuation. Judges will critic these mercilessly and one error may see you lose. One correction could see you win. I hope you win.
Have fun and good luck with your entry.
To enter go to: Rules & Entry Form
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.