Students Imagining “The World that Christ Desires” A Global Reflective Project!

We would like to thank all students who participated in the 2020 Anne Frank Essay contest. This year we found it difficult to select the winners because all of the stories submitted were amazing!  We received stories from different regions of the world, from Brazil to India to the United States.

The Winners of the Anne Frank Essay contest 2020 are:

For best English essay: Samudraneel Sarkar from St. Lawrence High School in Calcutta, India, who wrote the essay “The Human in Us”. Congratulations Samudraneel!

For best Spanish eassay: Gabriel Baquero Lazcano from Instituto Jesuita Familia in Córdoba, Argentina, who wrote the essay “Amaal y el Pequeño Gran Monstruo de Oriente”. Congratulations Gabriel!

We are delighted to share the essays here for you to read and share with your students.

Thank you for participating!


Student’s Name: Samudraneel Sarkar
Student’s Age: 14 years
School Name: St. Lawrence High School
Teacher’s Name: Ms. Sampa Jane D’Rozario

The Human In Us

“Hamid, get up. Get up right now. I don’t want to see you a minute late for breakfast. Now get up, or will I have to drag you off the bed?”

Loud snores continued, uninterrupted. Amina was not in the least fazed by the performance. A swift pull of the covers ensured a loud shriek at the sudden loss of warmth.

Hamid hurriedly stood up and pouted, “Was that really necessary?”

Amina grinned and said, “Absolutely, if you continue to be such a lazy sloth.” With a groan, Hamid made his way to the shower.

Breakfast in the Ali family was quite a lively affair. Reaching the dining room, his wet hair messy and his shirt unbuttoned at the top, Hamid observed his other siblings in a similar state of disarray. Hamid had one sister and two brothers- of whom the youngest was  Mohsin. His sister Raziya was only a year younger and his elder brother Zakir was four years older than him.

Entering the kitchen, Hamid saw his mother deftly flip a pancake, a skill honed by years of practice. Mohsin sat on his elevated chair, drooling on his favourite toy and clutching an apple tightly, entertaining Zakir. Glancing around, Hamid observed his father had not come down for breakfast. He proceeded to help his mother.

“Mother, why is Appu not here?”

“He will be coming down shortly.”

Light-hearted banter was exchanged. Raziya was sharing a humorous story regarding one of her classmates when Hamid’s father finally came down. Amina was just about to berate Aqib for being late when Aqib’s phone rang. After a short and tense conversation, Aqib hurriedly ate and said, “I need to go. Things are not looking good in the factories. Mehboob just informed me about the production halt caused by the unrest over NRC. The situation looks very tense.”

Amina looked anxiously towards her husband and said, “Stay safe and be cautious. The scenario is unlikely to cool down soon.”

“I promise. Don’t worry so much. Goodbye.”

“Bye Appu”, the children chorused.

Hamid was the first to finish his breakfast and went outside to the mosque to pray. Upon returning, he  invited his neighbourhood friends to join him for a game of football. He invited Aamir, Javed and Imran. However, one incident left him deeply unsettled.

He had gone to his friend Rakesh’s place. Rakesh was a courteous and amicable boy and they were very good friends. Despite that, he received a very chilly reception from the usually friendly boy. In fact, Rakesh’s mother and father eyed him with distrust and even glared at him when he asked for permission to play together. Initially, he was confused and tried to be even more polite and friendly. Nonetheless, his offer was turned down rather rudely. Rakesh’s father snidely commented, “We don’t need your sort mixing with our fine boy”, and slammed the door in his face.

The encounter was unnerving and completely disheartened him. He walked back home dejectedly, having lost the mood for games. Even the prospect of a mouth-watering lunch prepared by his mother couldn’t raise his dampened spirits.

Hamid was about to walk back to his room when his mother appeared. Embracing him, she enquired, “Back so soon? I thought you were going out to play with your friends?”

Upon seeing Hamid’s morose expression, she realized something was bothering him and gently asked, “Hamid, what’s wrong? Why the sad face?”

Hamid was conflicted internally about revealing what had happened but finally decided to confide in her.

He took in a deep breath and said, “Mother, am I a bad person?”

Amina was shocked. “What! No! Of course not! You are the best boy anyone could ask for. Why would you ask such a question?”

Hamid replied, “You know mother, I went to my friend Rakesh’s place today. He is usually very friendly but today he was acting as if I was a complete stranger. His parents refused to let me play with him and said that they didn’t need my sort mixing with him. So I wondered whether there was something I had done or …” he trailed off.

Inside, Amina was seething with rage. How dare they hurt her son! To think that they had discriminated against an innocent child merely for his religion! However, she knew she had to comfort her son and gently drew him towards her and clasped his shoulders.

Looking him in the eye, she said, “Hamid, you are a wonderful and extraordinary boy. However there will always be few people who will judge you not on the basis of your merit, but by your religion.”

“My religion?”,  Hamid’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“Yes, your religion. Some people believe that all Muslims are extremists and terrorists and discriminate against us unjustly. They are just bullies. They just intend to propagate hate and violence and do not cherish friendship or love. Do not listen to them.”

Hamid slowly nodded his head, somewhat relieved. Only a profound sadness lingered in his heart as he thought about Rakesh and others like him, who were influenced to be hateful towards Muslims. The world seemed unfair.

Soon, evening set in. Hamid was sent to get a loaf of bread, with Mohsin accompanying him. He was returning when he heard a commotion. It was followed by a sound Hamid felt was disturbingly like firecrackers.

The sound increased and appeared to be approaching his direction. The ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ continued, ever louder, followed by a boom and a sound of people screaming. Hamid craned his neck. What he saw rattled him to his bones and his face paled. In the distance were a couple of men holding guns, which produced that disturbing rat-a-tat-tat noise while one man was throwing what appeared to be exploding fireballs. Following were about twenty men haphazardly assembled. Hamid was struck with fear. He witnessed an elder man wearing a skullcap being dragged out onto the streets and beaten mercilessly. Revulsion overcame him. He gagged, feeling the urge to puke.

So these were the type of men his mother had been warning him about!

The route to his home was completely blocked by the mob. Hamid quickly grabbed gathered Mohsin into his arms and ran in the opposite direction. The sound became fainter and fainter. Hamid felt relief wash over him. They were safe!

Unfortunately, fate was not especially kind to Hamid. Only a few minutes later, he realized he had been relieved too soon.

Towards the crossing, another mob had amassed and was proceeding in his direction. Immediately, he turned around and walked quickly; but he did not run to avoid drawing attention to himself.

All his efforts seemed futile. He was trapped! Resigned to his fate, he desperately thought about how he could protect Mohsin from the vicious mob. He was ready to do anything to ensure Mohsin would be safe.

When all seemed lost, a door of a building in front opened and a young lady beckoned him in.

“Quick! Enter! They will be here soon.”

Hamid ran with Mohsin and entered into the building. The lady closed the door and then softly inquired, “Are you all right? Were you or your brother hurt?”

A “No” from Hamid reassured her, but she said, “We haven’t got much time. They will be here soon. They must have seen you walk in this direction and will come checking.”

She led the two brothers upstairs and introduced herself, “My name is Padma. When they come asking, you will act like my brothers. They will ask questions and you will need to answer them. Remember, your father is Pankaj Roy and your mother is Priyadarshini. You attend Delhi Public School. Your name is Sarvesh and your brother, Anurag. Agree with whatever they say and give short and brief answers. Do you understand ?”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you for saving me and my brother. It’s just that my brother would be…” and Hamid choked at the thought of any harm befalling his brother. “I cannot tell you how grateful I am.”

Padma comforted him and told him to be ready. “They will be here any moment.” She approached the window and saw fires burning in the distance. The mob appeared much closer and Hamid tried to calm himself. His heart was thundering in his chest and felt like it would explode. The chants and the slogans became louder and louder. Hamid felt like he was tied to a train track and a train was approaching in full speed.

When someone hammered and banged the door hard and told them to open it, Mohsin felt like his heart would leap out of his chess. He tried to calm himself, knowing that failure was not an option. He had to do it, if not for himself then for his brother and Padma- who had risked so much to help him.

The door banged open violently and appeared three men. Something about them screamed bloodlust and violence. Padma tried to calm them.

Hamid counted the ticking seconds in his head and grabbed a glass of water.

“Who is he?” one of the men roughly asked Padma.

“My brother”-pat came the reply.

“Do you love India or Pakistan?”

Hamid promptly replied, “India”.

The men stared at him for a long time and Hamid felt like a guinea pig under the gaze of a scientist. His every movement was watched. Finally, the man who appeared to be the leader said, “We saw a boy walking towards here with a child in hand. You wouldn’t happen to be him, would you?”

Hamid’s hands were drenched in sweat. He gave a nervous laugh and said, “No, of course not.”

The man once again stared at him for a few tense moments and then huffed and left, slamming the door. Hamid couldn’t help but exhale in relief. Padma cautioned him to wait for a few hours. Hamid immediately called his parents and informed them that he and Mohsin were safe and would return home after the mob left.

The two mobs finally dispersed in the early hours of the morning. Hamid once again thanked Padma for her help and uttered the question foremost in his mind.


“Why what?”, Padma asked.

“Why did you help me? You could have left me alone but you risked your life…” Padma quickly silenced him and replied nonchalantly as if it was obvious. “You’re my brother, that’s why.”

As the sun rose in the distance, Hamid couldn’t help but think that it symbolized a new beginning-a world  where people were brothers and sisters regardless of caste, religion or creed. Where people lived without fear, where all wars were eradicated, where education was freely available, where freedom was universal.

“You know what, I can live with that. Thank you sister.”



Edad: 16 años
Escuela: Instituto Jesuita Sagrada Familia (Córdoba- Argentina)



Aamaal, nombre que en árabe significa “esperanzas y superación”, nació en 1989 en Aleppo, ciudad siria de poco más de 2 millones de habitantes y a unos 13 mil kilómetros de la ciudad de Córdoba, Argentina.

A la edad de 23 años, debió ser testigo de una calamitosa realidad, en marzo de 2011,  un levantamiento contra el presidente Bashar al Asad terminó por convertirse en una sangrienta y sin precedentes guerra civil, la que aún perdura, según el Observatorio Sirio para los Derechos Humanos, más de 500 mil fallecidos y provocando el exilio, de más de 5 millones de personas según datos brindados por la ACNUR (Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para Refugiados).

Aamaal, de adolescente sintió vocación por ser activa colaboradora, en cuestiones referidas a la salud, por lo que no dudó en ingresar a estudiar a la Escuela de Enfermería de la Universidad de Damasco, distante a unos 350 kms. de su ciudad natal, donde logró graduarse como “Enfermera Profesional” luego de cuatro años de estudios, de constancia, de postergaciones y un enorme sacrificio personal.

A meses de recibida ingresó como auxiliar, hasta desempeñarse como enfermera titular, en la Organización de acción médico-humanitaria “Médicos Sin Fronteras”, una entidad internacional y sin fines de lucro, fundada en París en el año 1971 y que se desempeña en todo el mundo, asistiendo a personas vulnerables o amenazadas por conflictos bélicos, violencia, epidemias o enfermedades olvidadas y excluidas de atención médica.

En la primavera árabe de marzo de 2016, y con la imprevista pérdida de su núcleo familiar más cercano, padres y tres hermanos, fallecidos todos en distintos bombardeos lanzados sobre la población civil, tomó la decisión más importante de su vida, dejar todo o mejor dicho, nada, y volver a empezar, esta vez, lo más lejos posible de casa o lo que quedaba de ella.

Por recomendaciones de algunos colegas, conoció acerca del “Programa Siria”, un programa especial de visado humanitario para extranjeros afectados por el conflicto de la República Árabe Siria, plataforma a través de la cual en Argentina tendría facilitada la solicitud de asilo y el visto bueno de las dependencias consulares de las principales ciudades como son la  Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Salta, Mendoza, La Rioja, Tucumán y San Luis.

Aamaal, tomó todos los recursos materiales y ahorros que disponía y compró su pasaje hacia lo que soñaba un mundo mejor.

El sábado 30 de marzo de 2016, a las 7 y 20 de la mañana, se alistaba a abordar el vuelo 1123 de la empresa  aérea turca, Pegasus Airlines, viaje que le insumiría nada menos que 37 horas de vuelo y cuatro escalas (Estambul-Turquía; Roma-Italia; Barcelona-España y Buenos Aires-Argentina) hasta llegar a Córdoba.

Tras ese periplo, quedarían ocultos más no olvidados, aquellos primeros aromas,  recuerdos de una infancia por momentos felices,  también de frustraciones y de algunas que otras realizaciones, pero de pérdidas irreparables como la de su propia familia, aquella a la que tanto afecto la unía y movilizaba a seguir.

Tras las fronteras, más espirituales que geográficas, comenzaban a generarse en su interior sensaciones quizás naturales, para quien atraviesa similar situación, sensaciones como la incertidumbre frente a lo desconocido, frente a una nueva cultura, tradiciones y estilos de vida desconocidos, otra lengua y la ansiedad propia de volver a comenzar o en todo caso, de empezar nuevamente a ser.

Lo cierto es que Aamaal pensaba que ya nada volvería a ser como antes, que todo esto iría a traer consecuencias o impactos inimaginables en su personalidad; porque puede que toda esa transición, tan profunda como acelerada, no la haría dar cuenta de inmediato pero, más temprano que tarde, vería al mundo de una manera diferente, aunque en contraposición se fortalecía, casi convenciéndose asimisma,  que ante tanta adversidad, había que seguir hacia adelante, había que seguir creciendo o al menos, resistiendo, al menos subsistiendo. Exiliarse o refugiarse en el extranjero terminarían de enseñarle que la felicidad no es otra cosa que la ausencia del miedo y la soledad.

En definitiva, todo ser humano tiene un camino y como tal es importante abrirse a las señales, aceptar la importancia de ese llamado que llega a veces desde lo externo pero nunca tan fuerte como el que llega desde adentro mismo.

Finalmente, y luego de tantos pensamientos y reflexiones que rondaban por su cabeza, Aamaal aterrizaba en el Aeropuerto Internacional Córdoba a las 14.30 horas de un domingo 31 de marzo. Ciudad elegida casi por el azar o tal vez como lo intermedio entre la proximidad al mar y la proximidad a las montañas.

Lo que para un cordobés significaba muy poco, o nada por lo evidente y su familiarización con la cotidianeidad, para la joven enfermera significaban innovaciones a cada paso. Aromas, sabores, proximidad social y empatías tan veloces como la velocidad de una mirada.

El mate con peperína y los criollos amanecían en la ronda de la sala de guardia del Hospital Córdoba. Cada amanecer lograba distancia con aquella triste historia, que solo se hacía voraz, algunas tarde de domingo cuando las manchas de humedad de las paredes  del humilde departamento, dibujaban rostros desfigurados por las esquirlas o torres de humo que velaban transitoriamente a la masacre.

La historia en el otro lado del mundo comenzaba a ser la calma fantástica luego de la tormenta devastadora.

La gente y su impronta, sus creencias, su cercanía su calidez, habían enamorado a Aamaal del paraíso en un mundo hostil. Donde las peores noticias y los alarmantes llamados de algunos sectores, no tenía la fuerza para desequilibrar una balanza sesgada hacia el paraíso.

Culpó a sus pesadillas cuando dormida y a veces despierta, daban luz a esas macabras fantasías que llamaban al monstruo de oriente para aplastar felicidades en occidente.

Aquel monstruo, no tardó en cruzar el mar. No con sus enormes pies de acero, ni en drones, ni buques, ni submarinos. Un caballo de Troya que viajó en los hombres. Un virus nuevo capaz de asfixiar, capaz de volverla a un mundo del cual había huido.

Como los demás, el hospital Córdoba se encontraba abarrotado y el mate fue el primer abandonado. La tristeza había derrotado a muchos, cuyos cuerpos seguían en función, pero sus miradas despersonalizadas hablaban de la impotencia y frustración. La que solo siente un medico  cuando otra vida se vierte entre sus manos.

Aamaal y su inmunidad al dolor fue cobrando importancia como el bastón de sus compañeros. Justamente,  fue nombrada jefa de enfermería por el director sexagenario de canas brillosas y manos acolchadas. El mismo que en la entrevista de admisión había intercambiado algunas palabras en el idioma de la joven, quien rebautizó para si misma con el nombre de Abbas (León), no por la tenacidad y templanza que había conocido con el tiempo en el hospital. Aquel bautismo, venía como alusión al gran parecido a su abuelo paterno Abbas Hasbún Coronel retirado del ejército Sirio luego del golpe de 1949 por el Coronel Sami al-Hinnawi.

En árabe, idioma aprendido de sus antepasados, el Director del hospital, le había dicho aquella fría mañana de junio –Niña, a veces el dolor termina siendo un beneficio que tarde o temprano te dará felicidad-.

Tres años después, la felicidad que había sido un tránsito intermitente, estaba dejando paso sin barreras a un nuevo infierno, pero ahora en el mundo de la esperanza.

Cada amanecer lejos de las rondas de mate y de los chistes cordobeses, las miradas desorbitadas eran forzadas a posarse en el tablero que el director desde una dulce impronta había llamado “la lista de los nuevos pasajeros”. Allí se registraban las defunciones con el nombre del difunto, el motivo y la edad.

Los primeros treinta días, Aamaal, ansiosamente seguía las actualizaciones de la pantalla, esperando que los pasajeros no pasaran a los dos dígitos. Y sea cual fuera el numero de la realidad, siempre había un arenga para sus pares.

El promedio etario de los viajeros era su mayor preocupación por sobre las infinitas preocupaciones. Jamás podría soportar, no sentir a la reencarnación de su abuelo con sus manos acolchadas, tomarla, al tiempo que detrás del barbijo, un balbuceo le daba esperanza.

Pero… hasta percibió a sus pensamientos como el imán que atrae penumbra, amargura e infelicidad. Sus miedos habían cobrado justificación y un estornudo del viejo doctor, anunciaba que el monstruo de oriente la había encontrado en su guarida.

Prometió sacar a relucir el atributo de un sobreviviente de la hoguera terrenal y no caer tan fácil entre sus garras. Tomó mayores facultades que la de una enfermera sin antigüedad. Mucho más, pero nunca hubo oposición. Sabían que ella se movía en terreno conocido. Ella podía pensar cuando el resto se congelaba. Ella podía arriesgar en probar las diferentes medicinas posibles, en aquellos que ya se encontraban en la manga de ascenso. Así lo hizo. A contrarreloj y con decenas de colaboradores que al unisonó respondía “sí” a cada nuevo intento, dieron con la droga que de entre cientos de ellas, lograba quitar al mal en un par de días.

El apretón de las manos acolchadas, le avisaba que el paraíso pintado con jacarandaes y tipas, con olor a mate y pan con grasa caliente, había retomado su estado, para mantenerse por todos los tiempos.