Annette Marie Duke Image Credit: Gulf News

As easy as it is to criticise, it is much more rewarding to find a solution to any problem — and Gulf News' community reporters take the initiative every day.

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 May.

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

Topics of concern ranged from trays of wasted food in shopping mall food courts to the scourge of noise pollution by impatient motorists.

Readers have found Community Reports to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly affect their lives.

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 May were judged by UAE Editor Meher Murshed. The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on the community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

FIRST PRIZE

Fish and birds drop dead because of littering  
May 3
By Annette Marie Duke

Reason for selection:
Startling photographs of dead birds and marine life raised several questions for the community reporter, and her account of the occurrence made for a very compelling report. She raised the importance of civic sense and the consequences of littering in public places. UAE Editor Meher Murshed said: “The complete disregard for nature is taking its toll, beaches are being ruined and plant and animal life dying. Stronger action needs to be taken to stop this practice and preserve flora and fauna.”

Profile:
Annette Marie Duke is a resident of Ras Al Khaimah and has been in the UAE for the past six years. Through the community report platform, there is much scope for improvement and development around the country, she said. “It is a great way for people to address problems and bring them to the attention of the authorities. They may otherwise not think about the issue or never realise it existed.” As for littered beaches, Duke was optimistic. “I am hopeful that my community report will make [readers] think twice about littering. I really appreciate Gulf News for giving people an avenue to address these issues.”

SECOND PRIZE

Tainted waters
May 31
By Lej Soyar

Reason for selection:
Dead fish float alongside rubbish in Sharjah’s Khalid Lagoon and as far as this community reporter was concerned, the picture captured both the cause and the effect of careless littering. UAE Editor Meher Murshed commended the reader for capturing a telling photograph of the situation. He said: “[It’s a] strong picture highlighting the negligence of man, yet again.”

Profile:
Lej Soyar is a homemaker, and a resident of Sharjah. The community reporter’s concern for the environment was the reason why she decided to share the sorry state of the lagoon with Gulf News readers. She also added that a lack of civil duty seems to prevail in most parts of the world and a global change in attitude is required.
The reader said: “Even back in the Philippines, I have seen similar situations. People are just not concerned and I just want to know why.”

THIRD PRIZE

Food preparers must wear gloves
May 27
By Agniyah Shaikh

Reason for selection:
The catastrophic effect of unhygienic practices in cafeterias and restaurants cannot be ignored, according to our judge. The community reporter’s concerns about food preparers not wearing gloves are valid, UAE Editor Meher Murshed said. He added: “This needs to be enforced at all times. People preparing or handling food must wear gloves. The number of cases of food poisoning increases during summer and enforcing this rule will help in its prevention.”

Profile:
Agniyah Shaikh is a teacher, and resides in Sharjah.
For the reader, “community journalism is the need of the hour”. She explained the importance of contributing in a public forum and ensuring that communities are able to help in building a safer, healthier environment. “As all of us are busy in our daily chores, we forget to notice many ‘unseen’, minute but relevant realities in our society. I would like to thank Gulf News for being the pioneer, in making this platform a possibility, where the community is made to play a direct role in its own up-keep.”