The true story of the Forest Man of India, Jadav Molai Payeng from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, has bagged 13-year-old Maulika Pandey the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (QCEC) Prize 2022.
The 8th grade student from Aurum the Global School in Uttarakhand travelled to Buckingham Palace last week to receive her citation from Queen Consort Camilla. It marks the first essay prize to be conferred in memory of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society (RSC) which founded it in 1883 to promote literacy, expression, and creativity among young people throughout the Commonwealth and help nations achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 of “Quality Education”.
The Queen Consort said: “All of us are bound together by a profound appreciation of the written word and of our Commonwealth.
“This wonderful, extraordinary, richly diverse association of independent and equal nations and friends is, truly, ‘ours’, belonging to each one of us, and the connections between us run deep.”
The Senior Winner for 2022 was Sawooly Li, 17, from Auckland for a pandemic related essay and the Junior Winner was Madeleine Wood, 14, from Melbourne for an inspirational bedtime story. The Senior Runner-up was 17-year-old Amaal Fawzi from London, also for an essay related to frontline workers in the pandemic, and Pandey the Junior Runner-Up for her tale ‘The Molai Forest’ on Jadav Molai Payeng’s world-famous tree planting mission in Jorhat in Assam.
Pandey says she has always enjoyed writing since she was a little child as she feels writing gives her the power to express her feelings in a creative way. She aspires to be a successful entrepreneur but will definitely continue writing in the future.
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Dr Linda Yueh, RCS Executive Chair, said: “In 2022, we asked children around the Commonwealth to reflect on the inspiring example of the steadfast commitment Queen Elizabeth II gave to our Commonwealth family for over 70 years,” said Dr Linda Yueh, RCS Executive Chair.
“As the Patron of our Society, we were immensely grateful to the late Queen for her unstinting support of our efforts to improve literacy across the Commonwealth. We are deeply honoured that Her Majesty The Queen Consort, like late Queen Elizabeth II, is tireless in her own support for this important competition and its ability to improve the lives and prospects of children around the Commonwealth.”
For this year’s competition, 150 volunteer judges from across the Commonwealth assessed the entries on the theme "Our Commonwealth" and the final judging decision was taken by an expert panel made up of worldwide literary figures.
*Info: The Molai Forest