“Writing makes me feel as if I can pour out my heart. It makes me feel as if all the troubles can be eased with as little as a pen and paper. It makes me feel alive,” eloquently says fourteen-year-old Shebana Khan, a British-Muslim student who has submitted her work to this year’s Young Muslim Writers awards.
Now in its fifth year, the Young Muslim Writers awards is a celebration of the creative efforts of Muslim schoolchildren, ages five to sixteen, who compete in two categories – short story and poetry. As their website states: “We work towards raising the standards of child literacy and creative writing. We want to enable young people to be confident communicators to help build a vibrant society.”
“Every child matters and every child deserves to be educated, regardless of faith, race and color,” says Maqsood Ahmed, the director of community development for Muslim Hands. “But [British] Muslim children are disproportionately disadvantaged for so many reasons, from their family’s financial position to overcrowding at home and a lack of access to books or the internet. These children need to feel like they are valued and they need to feel proud of the work they achieve.”