Youth, Schools, Education
Crispin Anderlini, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
The low thud of bombs striking other neighbourhoods on one side of a Skype call, and the rustling of wind in the trees on the other, was the catalyst for Naia Alkhouri, student at St Francis de Sales School, Island Bay, to write her prize-winning song in Caritas’ annual school song writing competition, SINGout4JUSTICE.
The competition for students is divided into a junior (Years 7-10) and a senior section (Years 11-13). This year’s theme was The Time is Now!
Speaking to her grandmother in Aleppo, Syria, Naia could hear the bombing going on the background, and despite being reassured everything was ok, she knew the extent of the war’s impact.
‘It hit me then how vulnerable my grandmother was and I was worried whether she was going to survive. I kept thinking about her and if I was in her shoes what it would be like to have to leave my home behind and go on a journey to find safety,’ says Naia.
‘A couple of days later I wrote a song for her called Just Want Home. If I was in Syria that is what I would want, and I think the time is now for Syrian families to get their homes and lives back and for the wider world to help.’
Beginning with the lines ‘My feet aching, hands injured, feeling tired. I don’t know which path to take’, the emotional song was joint winner of the junior category. Anna Tukuitoga, a Year 7 student from St Joseph’s Catholic School in Paeroa, and her song Justice For West Papua shared the junior award with Naia.
Year 12 Hāto Pāora College student, Nikau Te Huki, was the winner of the senior category with his song Now or Never.
The winners each take home $500 worth of prizes.
The competition aims to encourage young people to consider ways their songs can express empathy for people in need. Songs could be entered by individuals or groups and sung in any language, with an English translation of the lyrics provided.
Visit Caritas online to hear the winner’s songs (www.caritas.org.nz/singout4justice).