First: Sasi Menon

Published on November 15, 2017

Sasi Menon, a senior operations executive based in Dubai, wrote about the need for public parks within his residential community of Al Bu Daniq area of Sharjah.

He said: “I believe that community reports are a great platform and over the years, Gulf News has promoted them with very good results. Readers have received unbiased support from the newspaper, and I would love to do more reporting. I feel Gulf News needs to promote such reports more and reach out to the masses.”

After his report was published, he received a lot of encouragement from his family and friends. But, on a personal level, he enjoys writing just for the sake of the society.

He said: “I write especially for the betterment of the public. But, apart from that, I am an ardent music lover.”

He is also a sport enthusiast and plays badminton every week, occasionally playing cricket, tennis and volleyball, too.

Second: Navanita Varadpande

Published on November 16, 2017

Navanita Varadpande, a writer based in Dubai, wrote a report about a young pupil who has started a book donation drive. Instead of throwing away old books, she is now collecting them from around her neighbourhood and making sure they reach someone who deserves them. As someone who is an avid reader herself, Varadpande was quite intrigued by this initiative and thought it deserved to be highlighted in the community reports section.

She said: “I feel that it is very important to have a platform such as ‘Your Turn’ courtesy Gulf News, to create awareness about causes that can can bring about a positive change in the lives of many. It is a portal through which people can express what ails their lives or stories of how they have made a difference to society.”

After her report was published, she received a lot of response from not just people in the UAE, but even from those in her home country, India. The children who read it were reassured that no matter how young they are, they can also make a difference.

With a passion for both reading and writing, Varadpande vows to continue writing to the newspaper.

She said: “Writing is a joyous process, it is a habit that helps in giving vent to my thoughts and feelings. The power of the pen, or rather the keyboard nowadays, is immense as it helps in crossing many a border and spreading messages all over the world. The written word can do wonders! As a writer, story teller and a teacher of creative writing, I get to live many characters, relish the beauty of different settings and also instil the love for reading in little minds.”

Third: Neola Castelino

Published on November 22, 2017

Neola Castelino, a pupil based in Sharjah, has been writing to the newspaper for years about her recycling efforts. In November, she wrote about using leftover water from bottles to water plants in her home. Additionally, she ensures that the bottles are shipped off for recycling instead of just landing in people’s trash cans.

She said: “I had a goal to recycle 5,000 plastic bottles by the end of December and till date, I have recycled nearly 4,500. I have even given nearly 11,000 kilograms of paper for recycling.”

As someone who is interested in writing, Castelino believes that writing reports about her efforts and raising awareness about issues within the community is a good opportunity for her to improve her skills.

She said: “I can express what I feel to other people with ease. To write more and better, I read a lot of articles on daily affairs. I believe that community reports are a good platform to get the message put forth across to the masses, who get an idea of what is happening in the society.”

Every time one of her reports is published in Gulf News, her school administration puts it up on a notice board so that her peers can read them and feel encouraged to do more for the environment. She finds great pleasure in knowing that she is making a difference, even if it is in a small way.

Special mention: Aditi Gandhi

Published on November 29, 2017

Aditi Gandhi, a pupil based in Dubai, organised a charity campaign along with her brother. They collected the things that people didn’t need anymore and finally donated them to the Emirates Red Crescent.

She said: “Community reports are a wonderful platform to express one’s views and to highlight different issues, especially the ones that are usually ignored. They help to effectively raise awareness about what is happening in our locality or neighbourhood, thereby urging people to become more responsible.”

She is a keen environmentalist and keeps writing reports for Gulf News on issues related to the planet. Her aim is to make a difference and help the planet breathe easier. Additionally, she wants to inspire children her age to be more environmentally conscious for a larger impact.

Special mention: Mishal Faraz

Published on November 8, 2017

Mishal Faraz, a pupil based in Dubai, also highlighted a green initiative that she has undertaken. Along with her brother, she has been collecting paper from her neighbourhood for the purpose of recycling. However, every time she would pick some up from her neighbours, she would find books in good condition, which people had submitted to recycle.

She said: “While going through all the paper we collect, we were surprised to see that the discarded lot contains useful reading material.”

In the past, she has raised awareness about the wastage of paper and water through her reports and is pleased to have found a platform wherein she can highlight her efforts towards a greener planet.