Lift the Lid sponsored its Fifth Annual Writing Competition at Lenana Girls’ High School in Kitale, Kenya and we are so excited to share the results. Every year we receive more submissions, and though the quality of writing varies depending on the age and experience of the students, we have set a tone within the competition whereby they aspire to honest and brave writing.

The young women at Lenana are finding the courage and determination within themselves to write from their hearts. We can teach them to edit and rewrite their words for clarity and accuracy, but finding that music within themselves takes letting go of everything else . . . and is at the core of good writing.

Congratulations to Abigael Nyongesa for placing First! Her essay about her father’s love and trying to go on after his sudden death speaks humbly and honestly to anyone who has experienced grief.

As part of the annual competition, Lift the Lid offers the students writing tips and encouragement. We also highlight what we feel is each student’s strongest sentence. Here are the chosen sentences of our 2017 Finalists. One sentence can hold the impact of an entire essay. One sentence can show a writer her worth.

First Place winner Abigael Nyongesa writes, “There are infinite number of ways that this world can hurt us and no two heartaches are exactly alike and no one can articulate the heartache of someone else, but sometimes the best way to heal is to share pain with others–others who care about us and love us.” Her full essay is below!
  • “Go beyond the rim of time or space, the same inflection of their voice will sing their way into the deepest of my mind still.”
  • “Their love has encouraged me to work hard in my studies and not to drop out of school.”
  • “Parents’ love can make one go far. People say that a journey always starts with a step.”
  • “I can confidently say that the lady changed my life.”
  • “All treasure and respect land to my beloved mother who has no boundaries when it comes to love.”
  • “She encourages me not to give up in life for God has a good plan for us.”
  • “I thank God for giving me parents, and I pray to God for blessing them abundantly and giving them a long life in this world.”
  • “Sometimes I fail to understand how much [my parents] feel about doing all these things for me, but it is only love.”
  • “My mother’s love changed me to be a person with a dream and a better future.”
  • “I had always no hope in my life because of the poverty that had been experienced by our family, but because God is love, I saw true love in my teacher.”
  • “This love felt like clutching to a very beautiful but fragile treasure that you want to handle with much care.”
  • “I vividly remember one day I met a beggar. She told me ‘special day,’ but I did not answer her.”
  • “I appreciate and am proud of [my parents], and I pray to God to give them more years so that they will live long until I achieve my dreams.”
  • “This love is fraternal, meaning the tender devotion my brother has towards me. At first I did not recognize it, but as time went by, it came out itself.”
  • “Although when everybody thought I was cursed or even bad blood, as they called me, I still pushed forward with the help of my mother.”
  • “I am so proud of him. He did what most fathers would not have done. Others would have had another wife to raise their kid, but he did not do it.”
  • “The following day my father went and talked with the doctor who was going to do the operation, and he said that he had decided to give me his heart.”
  • “I had no name but now I have a name. I am no longer a ‘black sheep’ but a ‘white sheep.’ Sometimes you may feel like the whole world hates you, but as long as you were chosen by God, He will show you love through his people.”
 Here is Abigael’s winnng essay: