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Friday, October 21, 2016
Winning stories from the Thai Children's Trust writing competition
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Erin Michie won first prize in the 11-16 category of the Thai Children's Trust writing competition. James O’Donnell  won first prize in the 7-11 category. They are both really beautifully written! Award-winning children's and young adult author Tabitha Suzuma who judged the competition will be visiting Erin and James' schools to present the prizes.

The Runaway by Erin Michie

The sun is my brother, warming my skin and lighting my way. The earth is my sister, providing me with a home and the land on which I live. Each blade of grass whispers words of the past; each song bird sings a unique melody every day.

My hands, rough and calloused, swept through the waist high grass, feeling the fibres scratch against my skin until it retracted back into place. My shoulders rose as I tilted my head back and inhaled deeply, smelling the mud and sugariness of the sweet grass. I could feel the hat of the sun against my eyelids, sense the light reflecting off of my skin. This was home- not the village, not the hut which held no warmth, not with my family- standing in the middle of a field, when the sun was highest in the cloudless azure sky, with nothing but hope and faith keeping my pulse pounding.

“Bailey Bee!” I called out, opening my eyes and scanning the area; I cupped my mouth with my hands. “Bailey Bee!” A movement in my peripheral vision caught my attention, and I felt my lips curl upwards. “Bailey Bee! It’ll be dark soon; we’ve got to keep moving!”

“But we’ve only just got here!” The small figure called out from a few metres away. “And we’ve been walking for hours!”

I twisted towards Bailey, where she was crouching in the grass. I ran a hand over my forehead and squinted. “You want to make it to the city before next year, don’t you?”

“Oh, Ollie, you know I do!” she called back out, straightening out of her crouch now and skipping towards me.

As Bailey reached me I scooped her up in one swift, and practised, motion and swung her round until she was clinging to my back like a baby monkey. Her hands wrapped themselves tightly around my neck and her legs clamped around my stomach. “Don’t you drop me, Ollie!” she warned with a carefree giggle.

“How could I ever drop my Bailey Bee?” I answered back, shuffling her a little higher before turning west and taking the first few steps to another section of a very long journey.

Making my way out of the field we had cut across, I found a footpath that looked as though it head in the right direction, west following the path of the sun. I had no shoes on, and the jagged rocks cut into my bare soles, causing me to stumble every so often. Bailey laughed and shrieked like it was the most exhilarating ride she had ever had, when she didn’t know the seriousness of this journey. She was young and would forget the sounds of people screaming when our village was raided. She would forget other significant traumas: the face of our father on his deathbed, and the emotional vacancy of our mother afterwards. Instead, by taking her to the city she would finally know what it was to have food and water.

With the body of a semi healthy sixteen year old male, I had a better storage of fat in my body, yet I was barely coping. When tales of an organisation that helped people like us passed through the village I knew what to do. Bailey was going to live a better life, whatever the cost. Her faith in me was astounding; she never once questioned why we were travelling to the city. My ever faithful Bailey Bee.

We travelled for seven more days and nights before there was any sign of the city. Bailey was the first to notice, the paths that we walked on became clearer and wider, fewer birds flew overhead as we progressed. The air gained a sort of electrifying hum, an exhilarating edge to the once smothering silence. Having only eaten what we could find in the trees or on bushes, we were both famished, my vision was waning and Bailey slept on my back most of the time.

“What did they call the place?” Bailey yawned into my ear at one point.

“I cannot remember, little Bee,” I sighed, shifting her on my back again. ‘The in Centre?” I suggested, but Bailey was already shaking her head, her hair scratching against my neck.

The next morning we reached the outskirts of the city, we had made it to Bangkok; we had made it to safety.

“Bailey.” I jiggled her to wake her up. “Bailey, look.” The sleepy six year old cracked open an eye and studied the scene in front of her. And then the other eye shot open and her mouth dropped into a small circular shape.

“Ollie,” she whispered as though it would break the spell if she spoke any louder. “Ollie it’s so big!”

A peal of laughter escaped my throat, my shoulders shook and my knees buckled. I knelt on the ground and vaguely felt Bailey shift off of me and sit down, giggling as well. Tears streamed down my face and I pushed a hand against the space above my heart, feeling its joy and elation.

“Bailey Bee!” I exclaimed between my laughter. “We’re here!” I cried, and then sprung to my feet, grabbing Bailey under her arms and flinging her up in the air and spinning around. “No more hunger, no more sickness!” I shouted,

Bailey screamed at my actions in amusement and joined in with my celebration. “No more walking!”

Ad as I looked up at Bailey, raised high above me, with the tall buildings and bustling city life behind her I grinned, this was the city of promise. “No more walking Bailey Bee, no more walking.”


‘The Runaway’ by James O’Donnell

One rainy morning in the country England lived a little boy named James. James lived on the streets begging with his friends. He had no idea where he lived and how old he was.  So one day he got so fed up because he wasn’t earning any money.  He told his friends and they thought he was crazy to walk all the way from Christchurch to London. So that night he kicked off on to the road leaving all his friends in the streets. Then about ten cars rushed past and James put his hand out to try and get a lift but nobody stopped.

Suddenly it lashed down with rain. James felt lonely and really petrified that something would come and attack him but he knew if he could reach London he would be safe. Days past and he still wasn’t there. On the third day he collapsed and was left there for two hours, until someone saw him and left him because they thought he was dead. The next five minutes a car saw him and luckily it was a nurse, so she dragged him into her car and quickly phoned 999, and they rushed him to the doctors. He was alive, they asked where he lived, but he didn’t know, or how old he was or what his own name was. His brain went blank. The doctors knew just where to put him. They took him to a Drop-In Centre and gave him food and clothes.  They also gave him a new name, Tom. For all the time he lived there he was happy, he knew he was safe. He got a good education and he was old and clever enough to stand on his own feet and get on with his own life. So he got his job which was a pilot and he loved it.  But some days he would pop into the Drop-In centre to say hello. He felt sad but he soon got over it and was a lot happier. In the next five years, James went back to Christchurch to see his friends and he took them to London and they got a job.

Within the Archdiocese of Westminster, RC schools will be collecting for Thai Children’s Trust as part of their Lenten appeal.  A qualified teacher at the Trust is inviting all schools to learn more about the Thai Children’s Trust by offering assemblies and lessons,  in order to raise student’s awareness of Global Citizenship issues.  If you would like to arrange an assembly or talk at your school then please do contact

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