The winner of the ‘Hans Christian’ Award writes about her dream of clearing the minefields with Messi’s help

Salha Hamdeen is a Palestine young girl who won the international ‘Hans Christian’ creativity award

Salha Hamdeen is a Palestine young girl who won the international ‘Hans Christian’ creativity award for writing a fictional story. She has competed with 1200 entries from all over the world.

{jcomments on}Reading and translating her story was very moving experience for me, because it takes us a tour inside the dream of a Palestinian child who managed to express herself even though she is deprived of the essentials and things other children take for granted. 

Salha lives in a tent and always worried of being evacuated; she lives with her lambs because her father was sentenced and imprisoned by the Israeli authorities for 25 years. She can’t play in the fields because the area was turned into a minefield and military training grounds. The shooting sounds whizz past her ears preventing her from getting a sound sleep. The muddy bumpy roads united with poverty stripped her from her dream of having a bicycle or riding one. Yet, she goes to school in the worst conditions and her school is not what can be classified as safe in Western standards since it is made from reed. But such conditions did not prevent her from participating in an international creative competition about writing a short fictional story, though what seems to be fiction to anyone outside Palestine is her everyday reality; a reality Palestinian children are forced to experience under the occupation.

Salha is a creative 14 years old girl who has a fertile imagination that helped her overcome loneliness and hardships, for she lived half her life at Arab al-Jahalin, a small Bedouin community, away from her father who was imprisoned after being sentenced 25 years in Israeli jails. 

She lives near occupied city of Jerusalem; she wrote a story where the main figure is one of her lambs that she calls ‘Hantosh’. Hantoush in her imaginary world can fly carrying her away from her Bedouin suffering village to free Spain where children enjoy freedom and live safely away from the Israeli occupation and its violations of Palestinians human rights. 

She created her own dream of meeting the Barcelona star Lionel Messi. In her story she imagines her hero, ‘Messi’ planning to help the Bedouin children of Palestine by establishing a football field for them to play.

In her story she wrote:

My name is ‘Salha’. I study at the school of ‘Arab al-Jahalin’. I live in a tent at ‘Abu Hindi’ Valley. I am 14 years old. I go to a school called the School of Reed. It was built of reed because the soldiers declared our land a closed military zone where they practice shooting in the field where crops grow.

Seventy sheep live with us in the tent. I milk them after returning from school, and then I make cheese to sell in the city. The road here is bumpy because the soldiers denied us the right to pave it because they do their shooting training here at night, I hate the sound of shooting, its driving me crazy, I run away, yes, I run away.

I have no bicycle because the road is bumpy. I have neither car nor an aeroplane, but I have something else that I use for running away. Come…come closer I am going to whisper a secret. I have a lamb that can fly. His name is “Hantoush”. His colour is black and he has long ears and two secret wings that he hides in his wool, unfolds them when I whisper in his ears: ‘O Hantoush,.. O lamb… get your wings out from under the wool’ I sing in his ears when the soldiers start their training shooting bullets. Then I ride his back and we fly away. Yesterday, we ran away to Barcelona. We want to tell you something. In ‘Abu Hindi’ Valley there are no playgrounds to start with, because the ground is littered with landmines. 

In Barcelona, we met ‘Messi’, the brilliant footballer. We played with him for hours, my lamb ‘Hantoush’ was standing as a goalkeeper, while I attacked “Messi” and his team; we scored five goals against them.

‘Messi’ requested of me and ‘Hantoush’ to join his ‘Barcelona’ team but we refused. We wanted to get back to ‘Abu Hindi’ because the sheep are waiting for me there. There is no one else to milk them but me. Because my father is at prison since 6 years and he has 19 years more to go. I will tell you a secret. ‘Messi’ told me that he will visit ‘Abu Hindi’ valley in two years. We will make the 2014 World Cup at (Abu Hindi) valley. We will clear the area from land mines and then establish the biggest playground in the universe, we will name it ‘Hantoush Stadium’, and the lamb will be the World Cup logo.

You are all welcome at ‘Abu Hindi’ valley; we are all looking forward to your arrival.

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