Rylands pupils win lockdown competition

Sayed Istiaq Ahmed, 10, is also one of the four winners, with his video entry about what a typical day in his life during lockdown looks like.

Two Grade 4 pupils from Rylands Primary School are among the winners of an online competition where children aged 10 to 12 shared their stories of life under lockdown.

The competition was run by the Literacy Association of South Africa (Litasa), and the Western Cape branch had four winners in the 10 to 12 years category.

In another category, parents of children up to the age of 6, also shared their stories.

Litasa promotes best practices and research in reading and writing.

Jessica Blom, Litasa’s Western Cape branch chairwoman, said they had decided to host the competition, because children’s stories were important.

“The competition also promoted literacy in some way — whether with written words or video – and that is what our organisation is all about. The children took their time to put something together, and it was actually difficult to choose the winners,” Ms Blom said.

The two winners from Rylands Primary are Haleemah Ahmed and Sayed Istiaq Ahmed (they are not related). They also happen to be in the same class.

Haleemah’s winning entry was a poem she wrote, called Life in Lockdown, while Sayed Istiaq made a video clip that depicts a day in his life under lockdown.

Their teacher, Khairunnisa Gaffoor, who does online teaching with her class, told them about the competition.

“I was so surprised, and I am so proud. I sent a WhatsApp message to the parents to inform them of the competition. It was not just our school that entered.

“There were so many other schools who participated. I must add though, that I cannot take all the credit. I only had them for a short while in class this year.

“Haleemah put into practice what she learnt. We did some work on rhyming before lockdown, and she made good use of it in her poem,” Ms Gaffoor said.

Haleemah’s mother, Haseena Ahmed, said her daughter loved to read but it was the first time she had written a poem.

“She is academically strong, but she also likes challenges. She never backs down from a challenge – that is her character. She viewed writing a poem as a challenge. She loves drama and is not shy at all. Ironically, her entry almost did not reach the organisers.

“Her entry was emailed early on in the competition, but on the last day of the competition, we realised we used the wrong email address and resent it,” Ms Ahmed said.

Haleemah said she had not expected to be among the winners.

“My teacher told me about the competition and I like competitions, that’s why I entered. It took me about three hours to write the poem, and it reflects how lockdown affected me.

“I love to read, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid is among my favourite books. I’d like to thank my teacher and my family for their support,” Haleemah said.

She plans on using her R350 prize money to spoil her mother, grandmother and her brother.

Life in lockdown by Haleemah Ahmed

Covid-19 is deadly,

Definitely not friendly.

The virus puts me on lockdown,

It makes me feel like I’m underground.

We have a good president,

Which makes a good resident.

The homeless are on my mind,

And I really hope they are fine.

Lockdown taught me patience,

And it taught me how to adapt in difficult situations.

Lockdown is making me crazy,

I feel like I’m becoming lazy.

I miss my family, friends and teachers,

And all their different features.

Covid-19 brought me fear,

But I know Allah will always be here.