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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Tsunami Treasure


Everything was gone. Everything. All we could see was piles of red bricks, broken trees and mud. My brother, Suresh, and I had gone to deliver fish for Father to the rich people up the hill. While we were gone, the tsunami came and washed our whole village away. The little houses and the people were gone. The tiny cheerful shops that used to line the beach were gone too.

The shops used to have brightly painted doors with delicate curved lines above them. Father had said the lines were words that rich and important people could read; that the words told about the treasures in the stores. But now the treasures were washed away -- and so were the words. That day I felt like the tsunami washed my life away too.

The months after that were sort of like the piles of broken pieces left by the waves. Suresh and I slept in tents of plastic with whatever family had room for us. We made ourselves useful by carrying and delivering things for a piece of fish or some soup. But there was no color in our lives, no beautiful lines and symbols, no hope, no plan.

Then the House of Hope School came to our area and everything changed. Two men came on a bicycle and said every child who wanted to go to school could go, even though we are not rich. I didn’t understand it, but my heart started to sing again, even if ever so softly at first.

My first day of school was the best day of my life. They taught me to read and write my name. S..A..N..J..A..Y.. That’s me! Sanjay. I thought my heart would burst. It made me feel as important as any rich man to be able to see my name on a piece of paper so everyone could read it. On another day, they taught me to read, “Jesus loves Sanjay.” The warm feeling was like I had a home again. I felt like one of the treasures in the store windows.

Now I can read whole stories by myself. Stories of great ships on the ocean, of tigers and elephants and airplanes. When I read, my heart pounds with excitement. It's as though I am actually there -- flying, swimming, or visiting far-off places. I wish my Father and Mother were still alive so I could read stories to them. I know they would be very proud.

When I grow up I want to write stories that rich and important people will read. Like the articles reporters wrote about the tsunami so people would help us. I hope my stories will help make a difference in people’s lives. Especially poor people. Maybe the articles I write will someday help everyone have the chance to go to school. Then they can learn to read and write too. Because if they can read and write, everyone is rich.

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This article has been read 613 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/02/07
You did a great job with Sanjay's voice--simple, as if English were his second language, or we were reading this in translation.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/03/07
I loved how you likened Sanjay's feeliing of hopelessness after the trunami to the destruction of the shop doors with their color and design. You definitely made a case for the value of the printed page.
Donna Powers 02/04/07
This simple story is rich with meaning and feelings. This is very well done; I feel as though I could see Sanjay and truly feel his joy at reading. Well done!
Pat Guy 02/08/07
This is precious and you did a fantastic job of writing as this little girl who learned how to read English. Very, very good. I enjoyed this immensely.

PS. I think I would have used the word 'were' to go with the words 'All' and 'piles.' (since you asked) ;)