RDS_121009 COMMUNITY Shweta Madhu, a winner for her community report in Gulf News. Photo Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Noticing a dangerous situation or reckless behaviour in your neighbourhood may be easy, but deciding to take action and help rectify that error requires a strong civic sense. It could be damaged property, litter carelessly tossed aside, or unattended excavation on a sidewalk, but our readers refuse to turn a blind eye. Community reports also give readers the chance to shed light on useful initiatives started by other residents, whether it’s for a charity or to help a good cause. Gulf News readers take on the role of community reporters to raise awareness among the authorities and their fellow residents alike, to help make a change in their neighbourhood. Today we acknowledge and award the community reporters whose message stood out among the others. The community reports published in September were judged by Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed. The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

Reasons for selection

The topics raised by the winning community reporters this month have been endlessly highlighted in previous months, yet they continue to be ignored. The first two reports bring attention to a continuous habit people can’t seem to break – littering. Even with numerous campaigns organised by authorities and environmental groups, people disregard their basic civic responsibility. Our third community report winner, however, shows how a group of people can transform the lives of helpless and forgotten animals.

Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed commended the messages raised by these readers. He said: “The first two reports show we as a society have scant regard for decency and ethics. The third shows there is hope. If only we could learn from these students.”

Profile 1 - Donation box filled with trash – September 4, Allen G. Mathews

Allen G. Mathews is a Dubai-based reader. In his winning community report he shared a photograph of a charity donation box filled to the rim with trash. Not only did people incorrectly dispose off their trash, but the misuse of the charity box also disallows other residents from dropping off their donations.

Mathews said: “This box was meant for depositing unwanted clothes for the goodwill of society.” In his community report, he wanted to remind people that “it was not a problem if you do not want to donate anything to the needy, but please don’t destroy a facility.”

Profile 2 - Careless behaviour causes damage – September 1, Rashid Abu Bakr

Before work one morning, Sharjah-based Rashid Abu Bakr woke up to find the windshield of his car shattered and damaged. The culprit was a bundle of bananas that someone had tossed from the window or balcony of a nearby building. Not only did someone litter, but they also failed to claim responsibility for the damage.

Abu Bakr requested that people remember to use the garbage bins or trash chutes in their buildings to dispose their trash. He also noted that community reports “will give people a clearer idea about what is going on around them. Hence readers’ suggestions should be appreciated at all times.”

Profile 3 - Students volunteer to help man’s best friend – September 15, Shweta Madhu

Shweta Madhu is a student at Dubai Modern High School. When her school held an orientation program organised by K9 Friends to introduce students to an excellent volunteering opportunity, she was happy to spread the news to her fellow peers in a community report. K9 Friends, which helps abandoned and stray dogs find new homes, taught students about their group and the different ways they help save dogs.

Madhu said that the orientation helped her realise how much work goes into “giving these dogs a second chance at life… All students who love dogs should try and help out as well.” She also found community reports to be a “great platform to voice one’s opinion and give back to society.”