Image Credit: P. C. Omar/Gulf News reader

Sometimes, it isn’t enough to clear up a dirty street or help rescue an abandoned animal. The core of the problem often lies deeper within.

That’s why our community reporters call for an attitude overhaul.

The newspaper recognises readers who took a stand and raised their voice on issues that they felt were important, relevant and required immediate attention. Today, we acknowledge and award those who shared their experiences and brought significant matters to the fore during the month of January.

Over the past few years, the Your Turn page’s Community Report section has highlighted myriad subjects that concerned residents and helped alert the authorities about matters that required urgent attention.

Topics of concern ranged from sewage water flooding residential streets to grammatically incorrect signboards. Readers have found Community Reports to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly impact their lives.

Committed to the cause

Raising important questions, seeking answers from the relevant authorities and highlighting social issues take effort. But community reporters do not shy away from taking the leap, if it has a chance of making a real difference. The community reports published in January were judged by Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed.

The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

FIRST PRIZE
Children forced to improvise
January 22
By: P. C. Omar

Reason for selection:
Time and again, children find themselves in precarious situations for no fault of their own. The lack of adequate play areas is often a trigger.
Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “Safe playing spaces are absolutely necessary for children, especially for their development. The community report highlights this social need in a clear manner.”

Profile:
P. C. Omar is an assistant sales manager, based in Abu Dhabi.
As an active community reporter, the reader said he felt the platform helps bring important issues to the notice of the authorities.
He said: “I would request authorities to create more parks and playgrounds in the city to facilitate children, rather than them having to play in subways.”

SECOND PRIZE
Puppies seek a loving home after recovery
January 14
By: Montserrat Martin

Reason for selection:
The community reporter’s account of two German Shepherd pups, who are on their way to recovery after mistreatment by their owner, made for a compelling read.
Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “This is an awful story of animal neglect and abuse, yet again highlighting the need for very tough measures against animal cruelty. Gulf News is following Kit and Kat’s story and we hope for a happy future for them.”
Read about their progress and watch a video on gulfnews.com/saveananimal

Profile:
Montserrat Martin is the founder of Friends of Animals group and is based in Dubai.
She said she hoped there would be a change in the attitude people have towards animals. She said: “Animal welfare is not just about cats or dogs — it is about the people we become along the way when treating them.”
The community reporter urged animal lovers to adopt rescued pets such as Kit and Kat, and provide them with a loving home.

THIRD PRIZE
Don’t rubbish our streets
January 7
By: Mohammad Mustafa Saidalavi

Reason for selection:
Confetti, beverage cans, paper bags and old newspapers can accumulate on the streets after a celebration. But do residents ever give a thought to who cleans it all up?
The community reporter’s question was a valid one, according to Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed.
He said: “Our living spaces — be they external or within our homes — are equally the responsibility of all. This community report highlights a lack of civic sense.”

Profile:
Mohammad Mustafa Saidalavi is a business intelligence analyst, based in Abu Dhabi.
He said: “Gulf News’ initiative to allow the public to highlight social issues through community journalism is highly appreciated. This is what content providers are doing all around the world — it adds value.”