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#HOPEtober essay writing winners announced

As a young, budding writer, being chosen by award-winning journalists Marianne Tham, Rebecca Davis, Dana Snyman or Erns Grundling as one of the winners of the Curro and Ithemba Foundation’s #HOPEtober essay writing competition is no small feat. But this is what Curro learners did this past week. Receiving top billing out of 286 entrants, the learners – who range in Grades from 6 to 10 – each shared what Hope means to them while also encouraging South Africans to keep Hope alive as we continue to move forward through the pandemic. The competition is part of the collaboration between Ithemba’s October Mental Health Awareness efforts and Curro’s #HopeToHeal campaign.

Judge Marianne Thamm says the essays “captured the past two years and how South Africans have had to hope and continue to hope”, while Rebecca Davis encouraged an entrant: “You can be a future journalist!” Dana Snyman says it was insightful to read how the youth experience Covid-19 and what hope means to them.

Winner Meriqe Pillay said, that “the capacity to hope is an indispensable human quality. Even in times of crisis when confidence and trust have been broken, hope sustains us in our living,” while Anela Vundla believes that “Hope is a good encourager, but it is not a band-aid to cover over actual pain and pretend that everything is okay. It does not guarantee that everything will be fine. It recognises that there is suffering, but it also recognises that there is a reason to keep moving on.” Both are in Grade 10 at Curro Creston College.

Curro Grantleigh’s Grade 6 learner Shreya Harbans’s moving story of “Gracie” was also extremely moving to the judges as her prose inspired them with her insightful words: “She caught a glimpse of the African sunset and once again saw the beauty for what it always was. Gracie found comfort in the spirit of Ubuntu, a renewed hope and a hopeful new beginning.”

“Hope, as both a verb and a noun, is something that we as South Africans need to hold dear as we continue to face untold challenges and difficulties brought on by Covid-19. It has not been an easy 18 months but it is critical that during such tough times that we keep perspective and believe in a better tomorrow. Our young people have great insight and are the future of our country, they give us Hope. It is this that the entrants of the competition have captured so eloquently in their writing, and I wish all the winners a round of applause for their creative and technical skills,” says Marí Lategan, Curro’s executive: corporate services. Lategan says that the reaction on the call to enter was “overwhelming” and, she adds: “So necessary.”

The #HOPEtober essay writing winners are:

English primary schools:

First prize: Shreya Harbans (Curro Grantleigh, Richards Bay; prize money R3 000)

Second prize: Tasheek Dullabh (Curro St George, Gqeberha) and Nala Vilakazi (Curro Waterstone, Johannesburg) (sharing R2 000, thus R1 000 each)

Third prize: Harshivan Naidoo (Curro Heritage House, Durban) and Mehul Morar (Curro Waterstone, Johannesburg) (sharing R1 000, thus R500 each).

English high schools:

First prize: Anela Vundla and Merique Pillay (both Creston College, Port Shepstone; sharing R3 000, thus R1 500 each)

Second prize: Kayise Khumalo (Curro Grantleigh, Richards Bay) and Dallin Naicker (Creston College, Port Shepstone) (sharing R2 000, thus R1 000 each)

Third prize: Joel Janneker (Curro Langebaan) and Mirthav Lachman (Creston College, Port Shepstone (sharing R1 000, thus R500 each).

Afrikaans Primary schools:

First prize: Cleone Stone (Curro Hermanus, prize money R3 000)

Second prize: Shani Blom (Curro Hazeldean, Pretoria) and Ruben Kotze (Curro Durbanville; sharing R2 000, thus R1 000 each)

Third prize: Juanel Brits (Curro Langebaan) and Tenisha Steenkamp (Curro Academy Wilgeheuwel, Roodepoort; sharing R1 000, thus R500 each).

Afrikaans high schools:

First prize: Carli Kruger (Curro Kathu; R3 000)

Second prize: Alexa Vivier (Curro Hermanus; R2 000)

Third prize: Johan Ferreira (Curro Sitari, Somerset West) and Johanne Strydom (Curro Kathu; sharing R1 000, thus R500 each).

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