First prize - Sara Jadid, 13 years old (Lebanon)

Tripoli, Lebanon, 14 February 2015

To all those people working to destroy my dreams and to all those, who have decided to kill the joy in my heart, I send a greeting soaked with the tears of despair, a greeting filled with both pain and hope, a pain I suffer and a hope for a better future.

From here, this world in which I suffer, I write words that paint a world I see in my imagination, words that I will set down as a letter, so that this picture may come true. From here, this dark world, I dream of living in a bright world, even if it is beyond the horizon.

From here, through these words, I seek to knock on the doors of  terrorists’ consciences, whose humanity sleeps, while war is awake within them. From here come my words, from this war-soaked atmosphere in which we live.

My world is different. It is far from hatred, spite, war and sectarianism. The flag of excellence flutters over my world and united under the skies are the moon of openness and the sun of freedom. Every time I close my eyes, I dream of a world where doves fly and the lights of mountainside villages shine every evening.

My world is a dream that has travelled all roads without exception to reach the boats in the harbour and travel with the sun, sinking with it behind the horizon and touching the rainbow, to travel with the moon on the road returning from the places where people stand under fireworks and finger-like clouds to celebrate their festivals. It is a world where we find civilizations, old markets and houses with rose-coloured windows.

In my world, minarets and church bells sing lullabies together, and one elegant star shines bright, with many little stars dancing around it every night. It is a world that opens its arms to everyone, black and white, without discrimination.

I do not want my world to be a gunpowder factory and I do not want its children to be victims of division. I want the world to be a factory that produces humans as purveyors of science, knowledge and culture. I want the world to be a dove carrying an olive branch in a world battered by storms, a lighthouse that guides boats in need of refuge from afar. I want to see the world’s light in the clouds and laughter in its tears.

I want my world to be powerful in its eternity, fabulous in its expanse, great through the peaks of its proud mountains. I want the world to be a place where children would not  worry, a world that will not be disturbed by the impact of bombs, the crackle of gunfire or the piercing of knives.

I want my world to be a strong fortress whose stones are the arms of its children, their heads held high. I want my world to be proud, refusing to bend and lower its arms, an eternal world that would make me feel that daybreak is near.

I dream of one day living in a world where all seasons are spring, in a green world, alive, generous, good and loyal, a world where children seek to do good.

I want a world without equal, where men have no equal, a world where mountaintops are hope, air is love, earth is good, water is generous. I want the best land for planting shoots  to feed off its goodness, that breathe its kindness and drink its sense of generosity, to engender better generations for the promising future of our dreams.

I want loyalty in the sky of my world because my land is missing loyalty. I dream of governing a world where love is the emblem and loyalty the foundation, a world where neither treachery nor hatred have meaning.

I do not want conflicts between the people of my world. I want people to be unified and united forever, one with the earth like a mother with her newborn.

I want my world to stand for good, to be refreshed by each drop of water, sweet fruit,  warm shadow, lily-scented breeze, song of the river, fresh spring, exciting twilight, scarlet sunset, brilliant stars and healing moon. In my world, the seasons pass uninterrupted, organizing the systems of each living being.

I want my world to be a second mother, warming me in her bosom filled with love, hope and protection. I want it to be a world where bitterness hides behind the doors of the forgotten so that the doves of the future fly through its air, a world that meets moments of paradise in the depths of light, a world that cares for each generation with tenderness, not blasphemy and anger, that puts it to sleep on a mattress of hope, while telling stories of eternity, refreshing them with the rules of the future, and that watches over it before it is too late and all opportunities are lost. This is a powerful world, lofty in its eternity, which guarantees a noble future for its glories. I want my world to be like a father, large and gentle, whom we can be hard on, but who is tender towards us. We are now required to face the divisions and wars that worked to destroy our dreams and wishes.

Everyone dreams of you, world, but I feel you like  warmth in the middle of a winter storm, and I see you like a sun in a hazy sky. You are my world, my refuge, the warm bosom where I take refuge from the cold.

The roads, the squares, the buildings and the large streets of my world will not be polluted by concrete, its families will not be homeless, and nothing will disrupt its union. The day of independence will not lead to disappointment.

I see you, my World, as a rainbow that appears after crises, in which no religion will conquer another and no skin colour will be superior to another. You are a world that transcends human conflict.

Finally, I say to you, now that these words are drawing to a close and my letter is at its end, unlike my dreams which have not ended and will not end, since my world is not Saturn or Venus or Mercury or Jupiter – it’s a world that knows no sectarianism or racism. It is safe, stable, and characterized by compassion and the recognition of the rights of others everywhere.

A long life to you and your wishes and desires.

From a citizen who dreams,

Sara Jadid