Let's Read, a charity under the auspices of Dar Al Atta'a, which promotes the love of reading to children in Oman, recently held its eighth Children's Writing Competition in conjunction with the Public Knowledge Library. Here are the four winning entries, representing the four different age groups.
Water the theme of the competition for 2014, tied in with the International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005–2015. Jane Jaffer, Chairperson of Let's Read quoted from the UN initiative; "Water serves a multitude of different purposes, and it is vital that we preserve this precious natural resource. Access to water is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of humans and the protection of nature.
The United Nations recently announced that the world had achieved the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water. Eighty-nine per cent of the world population, or 6.1 billion people, now have access to an improved drinking water source. But 11% still does not."
School students aged from 7 to 18 years were encouraged to write factual information about water and its importance, or to write a fictional story that somehow related to the subject of water. Jane said, "We wanted students to realise the importance and value of fresh water by researching the subject independently. Those who decided to write a work of fiction were encouraged to be imaginative and write something adventurous and original."
A team of judges worked long and hard to read all 340 entries from more than 35 different schools across the country. The Arabic entries were judged by the Public Knowledge Library and the English entries were judged by Salma Mawlawi, Cathy Al Delamie, Sonia Carr, Hilary Hull, Elizabeth Al Sarhani, Alison Al Maskari, Jane Jaffer, Christiane Mushantef, Marijke and Vileka Talyarkhan. The competition was sponsored by Haya Water, Sweets of Oman, Highland, BSJ, MacDonalds and the Al Qurum Complex.
Winners of the Let's Read Children's Writing Competition 2014
1st Prize (7-10 yrs)
1st Prize (11-13 yrs)
1st Prize (14-16 yrs)
1st Prize (17-18 yrs)
Ahmed Abdullah Al Jehafi
(Sarab School- Wusta)
Best Entry from Each School:
(Sri Lankan School)
Haya Al Siyabi
(Al Sahwa School)
(Royal Flight School)
Shaheer Nasim Haider
(Muscat International School)
Fatma Hamed Al Ghafri
(That Al Nitaqain School- Ibri)
(Knowledge Gate Int. School)
Azzam Ahmed Al Beraiki
(Al Ikhlas School)
Hani Nabeel Marhoon Al Yaqoobi
(Al Massrat School)
Alaa Al Jamalani
(Madinat Sultan Qaboos PS)
(Indian School Muscat)
M.D. Tousif Habib
Marwan Nabeel Marhoon Al Yaqoobi
(Murtafaa Basic School- Ibri)
Fatima bin Umair
(Beacon House School)
Shurooq Hilal Al-Senaidi
(Bilad Bani Bu Ali School)
Omaima Saeed Rashed Al Salti
(Bahar Oman School)
Dhabia Rashid Al-Sheheimi
(Bilad Bani Bu Hassan School)
Aya Al Maamari
(Al Hajer Basic School)
Salsabeel Said Al Moqbali
(Fatima bint Qais School)
Abdulrahman Ahmed Abdellah
(Khwarizmi School – Buraimi)
Anfal Ibrahim Al-Sudairi
(Falaj Al-Sidireen School-Dakhliyah)
Abdulraheem Sulaiman Al Breiki
(Ka'ab bin Barsha School)
(Indian School ISWK)
(Zainab bint Salamah School)
Manar Nabeel Marhoon Al Yaqoobi
(Ibri Basic School)
Fatma Mohammed Al Mamari
(Rubooa Al Khair)
Manahel Al Ghalini
(Fatima bint Asad)
Saadi Mohammed Shahood
(Fatma bint Assad)
(Al Masraat School)
Reddy, the Common Reed
I am Reddy, the Common Reed.
A few years ago I was cleaning the dirty swampy areas in Al Qurum Nature Reserve with my happy family. Then one day, my life changed forever. I was cut out of my home. I was put in a crate on a vehicle and there I went off far away. At least some of my relatives were with me like my aunt the Common Bulrush, my grandfather the Chairmakers Bulrush, and my cousins the Common Rush and Tall Flatsedge.
As we drove I realised we were going further and further into the dessert because there was sand everywhere. I was devastated. I realised I was plantnapped! I mean, I am a plant made to clean water and what am I going to do in the middle of the dessert.
We finally arrived and they planted me and my family in a huge constructed wetland under the hot sun and I knew that this was torture. I would surely die! Then suddenly out of nowhere water started to flow over me. I was so happy! But this water was different. I have never seen water being so dirty before in my life. This water was black! The water contained oil, chemicals and many other things that makes it impossible to be used just like that. Well, this was going to be a challenge. I didn't mind though because I was created to clean water and use some of the waste in the water to make me grow.
They left me to grow to a certain size and then they cut me in three different parts and planted the three parts again. They did this to everyone of us till at the end there was more than 2 million plants.
I laughed my roots of when I heard that the water comes from nodding donkey that pump oil from below the ground at an oil production plant. I only learned in time that what comes to the top is a mixture of oil and water. The oil and water is separated and the water we receive to clean is called industrial waste water.
After this water flowed through me and my family it is really very clean and clear but it tastes brackish. I always knew I would do something really great in cleaning water but never expected this.
Almost four years since the day I was taken from my natural habitat, I am happy and growing and cleaning and I did not die! My family in the swamps will not believe me when I tell them that I have been cleaning water in the desert. My new home is called Nimr.
I am now overlooking very big shallow dams that stores a lot of water, as big as 140 rugby fields or bigger. This water now evaporates into the sky and makes place for new water every day.
One day, if we do our work well, this water might even flow into wadis or sink into the water beds of Oman to provide usable water to people and animals for many years to come. I am Reddy the Common Reed and I am not so common after all!
Kirsten Willemse, 9 years old
Walking to the well
The burning sun beat down on my sun baked face as I trudged through the crusted surface of the African plains. My throat burned and was dry as a crisp. I wondered if there was a point life, if there was a point in me. Every day I had to trudge through this plain just in order to survive. Why was my life like this? My feet burned against the boiling rock surface. I could see shapes forming in front of me. I saw a little pond in the surface, I rushed towards it and tried scooping it up, but all I scooped up were rocks and pebbles. My throat felt like it was flaming, I needed….water. I thought I should just give up life.
Then I remembered what my mum told me long ago when I questioned her about why I couldn't be like everyone else, why I couldn't live my life like a free man why I had to walk to the well every day in the baking sun to get a taste of water, water which wasn't clean, then she told me that only people who work hard and play fair get what they truly want. She told me that we should be thankful for what we have and keep on moving. So I got up and moved across the empty plains which stretched far into the horizon in the setting sun. The cracks in the ground were sharp and I had to avoid cutting myself on the small thorns poking out of the ground. At last I could see the wells outline still far away, but it was enough for me, I was almost there. The only thing that kept me going now was the look on my mother's face, for her to know that if I turned now there was no point in coming, and I couldn't have walked all this way for nothing so I ventured on the sun blazing on my back burning me. I could almost see the ground smoking beneath me when I walked. There was no sign of life anywhere not even birds in the sunless sky.
Finally I saw the well I limped over, beads of sweat falling from my forehead, I looked into the well and saw water inside I was almost crying as I dropped down the bucket into the hole and pulled it back up, the rope giving me nasty burns and cuts. I was only 13 and I felt like I was going to fall inside trying to pull the bucket up but at last it surfaced, I held the bucket to my lips as water dribbled down my burning throat, reviving me, it felt as someone had breathed life into me again. I looked ahead on the long journey back wondering if I had to go back then I realised that wasn't the question. Good things come to those who don't give up and I wasn't going to give up this close, no, not now.
Tara Asraf Ali, 10 years old
ABA (American British Academy)
The healing of the seas
Nero was a boy, but at the same time he was not. He was young and yet, centuries old.
He was human, but he wasn't. Nero was the ocean. He lived at the bottom of the sea. And he was very sick. As water bodies became more and more polluted, Nero grew sicker and sicker. And because the ocean was getting sick, other water bodies became sick too. The Onsen and the Hu in the east, the Flod and the Breen in the north, the Jharana in the south. All these relatives of Nero soon came to visit him, for they were worried.
The sicker Nero became, the weaker the other waters became. Earth itself was choking on chemicals and wastes which were strangling the oceans. And poisoning Nero.
Cambio, a young flame headed lad, was agitated. He flitted from place to place, country to country, noticing the deteriorating state of the water. He finally decided to go to the source of all. The Ocean.
He dived in, and soon was face to face was the Kingdom Nero ruled. Yet, there was no ruler to welcome him. Cambio entered Nero's chambers in his palace, and was shocked by what he saw. Nero was lying immobile, hardly breathing, on a seaweed bed.
This struck his resolve. He knew something had to be done.
Cambio left the underwater palace, and returned to the surface of the Earth. And then he began. From Alaska to Australia, Japan to Oman, and everywhere in between, Cambio began collecting promises. He made every country promise not to pollute the rivers and lakes. To dispose of sewage safely. To help clean up the waters which gave them all life.
To purify the sick oceans and seas, every promise made became a drop, all of which Cambio stored in a little bottle he named Tumanako.The hopeful cure.
Soon, Cambio returned to the underwater kingdom and gave the bottle to Nero. He told him to drink the liquid, which looked like woven gold. Nero did, and with every drop he drank, his posture became stronger and his eyes became brighter.
And as Nero, the Ocean deity, became healthier so did all who stemmed from him, Onsen and Hu, Flod and Breen and Jharana.
And as the water bodies became healthier so did Planet Earth. Flowers began blooming and bees began buzzing. Animals began moving with vigour and the air became fresher and cleaner.Earth was healing.
Cambio spent the rest of his days by the seaside, often looking over the deep, blue oceans.
Water is in all of us. And water sustains us. It is our duty to protect this water so that Mother Earth may live. And Nero will be pretty happy about that too!
Ishani Sen, 16 years old
Indian School, Al Ghubra
Water, a precious gift!
Water is the most precious gift of Allah because it sustains life, living organisms, animals or plants. Water is inevitable for the survival of life.
Today availability of fresh drinking water for everyone, preservation and protection of water, the most important ingredient of life's sustenance, is dripping off, leaving dry patches, deserting vast areas of the earth. This happens because of the forceful brutal exploitation of nature for the selfish personal interests of greedy man.
Around two thirds of the earth is engulfed by water. But the amount of drinking water is only 0.007%! Water has always played a key role in human life, culture and the development and the decline of civilisations. If we walk back through the corridors of history, we find almost all the great civilisations of the world flourished and prospered on the banks of rivers. Egypt is named as the gift of the Nile, because the dry deserted area witnessed the great ancient world civilisation because of the river Nile. So also is the Indus Valley Civilisation of South Asia. The urbanisation of Mesopotamia was credited to the mighty rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
Chemically water is named H2O. It exists in three different forms: solid, liquid and gas. Solid is ice. Liquid is water and water vapour as gas. Water does not have a definite shape. It is odourless and colourless.
The uses of water are innumerable. Other than the basic uses of drinking, cooking, cleaning, washing and bathing, etc., water is used to generate electricity. Water transport is the cheapest means of transport. Hence it is evident that we must preserve and safeguard the water sources. We must adopt eco-friendly means and methods to preserve the water sources. Water resources are the heritage of humanity. We are bound to protect it and pass it on to the future generations as our legacy. Careless wastage and destroying of water resources are recipes of human disaster. Coming years might witness countries waging war against each other for water.
So let us be alert, active and cautious. Let us knowingly take voluntary strides to promote a movement for the preservation of water sources. Water is priceless. Let us today make concrete efforts to preserve safe drinking water for the coming generations. Sure, water is divine as it is life sustaining, and life giving. Let us pledge ourselves to keep it pure and safe!
Ahmed Abdulla Al Jehafi, 18 years old
Sarab School of Basic Education
Compiled by Sarah MacDonald
(*The entries have been published verbatim)