Neola Castelino Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Life is tough. It was never meant to be easy. Struggle is inherent to the design of existence, and this holds true be it the rich or poor, although we do like to believe that the fight for survival might be much more velvet edged when the bank balance is substantial. Nevertheless, the bitter pill of fighting every day in some small measure is the truth we have to swallow.

No, this will not turn into a theosophical debate but there is a reason to my lead - why then do we strive so hard to complicate our lives further and make things worse for others and the planet? Why are we so mean to each other and to Nature?

One would think that the daily weariness would have made us wary of poor civic conduct, but our community reports prove this month that negative social behaviour continues, if not thrive.

Take for example our top winner for the month of May - the report published on May 21, ‘Public telephone booth misused’, by Zain Lalani, an accountant based in Dubai. He raised the horrendous condition that a public phone booth in Bur Dubai area was in. And this has nothing to do with municipal maintenance. It is a direct result of people behaving in an irresponsible manner. The walls of the booth are covered with florid red stains from betel juice that has been spat out, perhaps by people using the public phone. It is ugly, dirty and a health hazard. Why in the world would you do such a thing? What lack of sense would govern a person to dirty a public facility because it is accessible? You might consider this to be a rant. But, when you repeatedly see the lack of respect for public property, it is extremely disheartening. Much credit goes to Gulf News reader Lalani for filing this report, especially with the picture that conveys it all.

Second place goes to ‘Wastage of paper needs to be stopped’, by Sharjah-based pupil Neola Castelino, published on May 13. She raised an extremely valid issue - the excessive number of leaflets and flyers distributed by small businesses such as supermarkets, groceries and restaurants, resulting in pointless waste of high grammage paper. The carbon footprint of these printed materials, keeping in mind the thickness of the paper, the inks used and the transport, would be high. And they hardly serve a purpose because they are so copious that they eventually just end up littering surfaces and finally find their way into waste bins. Perhaps a more effective marketing tool needs to be employed by these businesses, especially one with a lower carbon footprint.

Third place goes to, ‘Which way is the right way?’, by Sharjah-based pupil Jayanth Ramganesh, published on May 25. It talks about how a sign pole that broke is confusing drivers along King Faisal Street. The absence of signage at the exit is distracting drivers, which has apparently resulted in several accidents and increased chaos. Ramganesh explains the problem in depth and requests the authorities to rectify the situation immediately with new, clear signage. An excellent report that is the direct result of an alert and conscientious mind. We request others of similar thought and mind to look at issues in their community and report for us on these pages.

FIRST PLACE: Zain Lalani

Published on: May 21, 2015

Zain Lalani, an accountant based in Dubai, raised the issue of phone booths covered in betel leaf stains.

He said: “I think that community reports are an excellent way to raise issues and get messages across to the general public. The fact that Gulf News, the most widely read English-language daily in the UAE, uses its wide reach to such good use is an excellent example of an organisation committed to caring for the society.

“I have lived in Dubai all my life with my family. When we come across such irresponsible and unhygienic acts, it is truly saddening, especially when the authorities are so committed to providing residents with a clean and beautiful city.”

Lalani received a positive reaction from those around him.

He said: “My friends and colleagues appreciated the report and my parents received positive feedback, too. People were particularly impressed by the initiative of Gulf News to highlight the issue.”

SECOND PLACE: Neola Castelino

Published on: May 13, 2015

Neola Castelino, a pupil based in Sharjah, is constantly making an effort to help the environment in any possible manner.

She said: “I strongly believe that community reports are a good platform to get messages such as mine to the society. It is important to share such news and views among the readers, especially children and youngsters.

Most of my school mates, relatives and teachers, had a positive response to the report. All my reports, which have been published in Gulf News, are handed over to the school and the administration posts it on the school’s notice board to raise awareness. This is encouraging and allows me to write more reports regarding environmental issues. One of my favourite hobbies is recycling.”

THIRD PLACE: Jayanth Ramganesh

Published on: May 25, 2015

Jayanth Ramganesh, a pupil based in Sharjah, hopes to raise awareness about civic issues.

He said: “Community reports are an effective tool to create social awareness. It has a very wide reach and the issues discussed gain the required attention immediately. Such reports help in solving a social or civic issue, which would otherwise be overlooked or ignored. In my personal experience, Sharjah Municipality took prompt action in solving an issue concerning the state of a garbage bin in my neighbourhood.

“I have received a lot of appreciation from many people, including neighbours, friends, school teachers and colleagues of my parents. Many people have encouraged me to continue writing. Community reports are respected by readers and the follow-up actions are well appreciated by all.”

- Profiles compiled by Rabab Khan/Community Interactivity Editor