Cyprus Mail

Cypriot girl wins international postal award for moving letter

Chara Phoka helps cut a cake at the ceremony in Berne on Tuesday

A 13-year-old Cypriot girl was awarded a gold medal by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) after a letter she wrote for the 47th International Letter Writing Competition for Young People was chosen as the best one among more than a million participants, it was announced on Wednesday.

Chara Phoka, a pupil from Larnaca, received the gold medal during a ceremony at UPU’s Berne headquarters on Tuesday.

The ceremony was held on World Post Day, which aims to raise awareness on the international postal sector’s role in the lives of people and businesses, as well as its contribution to global social and economic development.

The theme of this year’s competition was, “Imagine you are a letter travelling through time. What message do you wish to convey to your readers?”

“With my letter, I wanted to give a voice and an identity to refugee children and give meaning to their lives,” said Chara after receiving the gold medal. “I wanted to express the way young people feel about instability, conflict and people smuggling. I hope that my letter sends a timely message that we need to solve these problems, not just for young people but for everyone.”

“Her letter—the letter of an invisible life—tells a harrowing story that speaks to this painful period in the 21st Century; a powerful modern allegory that informs as much as it distresses—a story of conflict, of migrant smuggling, of loss and finally of hope,” UPU deputy director general, Pascal Clivaz, said at the awards ceremony.

Chara’s letter tells the story of a letter written following a violent event and how the letter is forced on a journey, travelling from Afghanistan, to Syria, Turkey and finally to Cyprus.

“During its perilous travels, the letter changes hands several times: from its author to a courageous young refugee who dies in a harsh sea crossing and finally, in a positive ending, to a relative living abroad,” a press release said.

On average, over 1.2 million young people between nine and 15 take part in the competition each year.

Chara’s winning letter may be found at:





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