They strived to "be the change" they wished to see in the world - and Gulf News noticed.

The newspaper acknowledges its citizen reporters who raised their voice on issues they felt were important, relevant and required immediate attention.

Today, we honour those who shared their experiences and brought significant matters to the fore during the month of June.

The Your Turn page's Community Report section has placed heavy emphasis on alerting the authorities on issues faced by residents.

Topics of concern ranged from children's art exhibitions to hygiene concerns at cafeterias. Readers have found it to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly impact their lives.

Raising important questions, seeking answers from the relevant authorities and highlighting social issues take effort. But citizen reporters do not shy away from taking that extra step, if it has a probability of making a real difference.

The community reports published in June were judged by an independent panel of senior Gulf News journalists including Hub Editor Najla Al Rostamani and UAE Editor Meher Murshed.

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

Here are the winners:

First prize: Helping a poor dog to recover
June 29
By Montserrat Martin

Reason for selection: The value of an animal's life is lost and found in the community report, which was selected for sharing a story that tugged at readers' heartstrings.

UAE Editor Meher Murshed said it was "a heartbreaking story of human cruelty and kindness, with a telling picture."

The citizen reporter urged readers to help find a loving home for Fernando the dog, who was run over by cars twice and survived only thanks to the compassion of low-income workers.

Murshed said: "What is amazing is that workers, who can barely afford a meal for themselves, fed the dog.. I would love to know what happened to Fernando."

Click here to read full story from reader

Profile: Montserrat Martin, a Spanish expatriate, is an artist and creative director. She has been in Dubai for eight years.

While Martin said her community report has created a great deal of awareness and shock among residents, volunteers have still not come forward.

But Fernando the dog will have his happy ending, as a good friend has agreed to give him a home. Martin added that animal welfare was an issue that required urgent attention in the UAE.

She said: "Gandhi once said 'the greatness of a nation... can be judged by the way its animals are treated.' I have seen so many mistreated animals, it is heartbreaking. People need to realise the plight of these pets."

A change in attitude is the need of the hour, according to Martin.

Second prize: Rubbish ruins the ocean
June 14
By Zeus Azusa Shiraki

Reason for selection: The judges felt the citizen reporter made a strong case for our oceans and seas, which are being continuously and consistently violated by human recklessness.

Hub Editor Najla Al Rostamani commended the visual display of the littered sea: "The reader has driven home a grave problem [with] a very strong picture showing that the sea has turned into a garbage dump."

While calling for authorities to help make amends, Najla said: "The authorities alone cannot prevent this [damage from occurring], as the community must be made more aware."

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Profile: Zeus Azusa Shiraki is a Japanese expatriate based in Abu Dhabi. She works as a scuba diving instructor.

Shiraki recently hosted a beach clean-up which drew up almost 500 kilogrammes of waste from the old public beach in Abu Dhabi.

The power of volunteering and making a difference shone through in the event, according to Shiraki. She said: "The volunteers were very happy to read about the results [of their efforts]."

As for her own success as a Gulf News winner? Shiraki was pleasantly surprised: "Wow! I didn't even know there was such a competition."

She thanked Gulf News for allowing her to create awareness about the marine crisis.

Second prize: A traffic light that endangers lives
June 30
By Gautam Mahajan

Reason for selection: A report highlighting an accident-prone area, where dangerous and deadly collisions are the norm, caught the attention of the judges.

Selected for its focus on a topic of immediate and urgent concern to residents and authorities alike, the report also won commendations for its visual appeal.

UAE Editor Meher Murshed said: "[It is a] good story accompanied by pictures." "The authorities should take notice because more accidents, perhaps even fatal, are waiting to happen."

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Profile: Gautam Mahajan, an Indian expatriate, works in an airline company in Dubai. He said he received the ultimate surprise when a traffic signal was installed at the deadly Bur Dubai crossing only a day after his community report was published.

Third prize: Quick fix for the hazard
June 3
By Syeda Hashmi

Reason for selection: Problem solved - two words most people would love to hear. With her community report and follow up, the reader discovered a damaged pedestrian crossing that required the attention of authorities, highlighted it and reaped the rewards with a repaired pathway soon after.
Hub Editor Najla Al Rostamani said: "[The report] reflects a constructive and welcome approach - by the reader who pointed out the problem and the respective authorities who took the necessary steps to resolve it."

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Profile: Syeda Hashmi is a homemaker and mother of three based in Abu Dhabi. Witnessing first-hand the result of bringing issues to the attention of the authorities, Hashmi was confident about the effectiveness of community reports.