Posted on

A Publishing House, a Forest & a Classroom

Kundeni Prmary School children by the new classroom

In the spring of 2014, as well as publishing a handful of new titles* we also launched a pioneering global writing competition called the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize.

It had two categories – short stories and poetry – a prestigious £3,000 prize fund and three environmental promises built into its foundations:

  • to plant a tree for every single entry received, in Bore, Kenya,
  • to fund the build of an urgently needed new classroom at Kundeni Primary School in the same community,
  • to send every entrant an electronic certificate with the clickable GPS co-ordinates of their tree.

Children

Youngsters from Kundeni Primary School getting ready to plant trees in the Word Forest

Nursery

The Word Forest is packed with moringa, casuarina, neem, cashew and other trees

Villagers

The community of Bore got stuck into the footings of the new classroom

Footings

The children await their new classroom with excitement and anticipation

Construction

Headmaster James Kithi and the Kundeni students give the progress a thumb's up

Walls

Up go the walls and everyone lends a hand sealing the building

Floor

Laying the floor must have been a back breaking task

Celebration

Once the floor had been laid, it was time for everyone to celebrate

Paint

Thankfully, there was enough paint to give the old classroom a spruce up too

School

In the late spring of 2016, the classroom was ready and open for study - bring on classroom 3!

Anthologies

Buy them and enjoy the winning entries; we'll plant a tree and get more building materials for every one sold

Ru Hartwell, an international forestry expert, founder of TreeFlights and a trusted friend, chose Bore to site the Word Forest for several reasons. He knew we were keen to plant a legacy forest that would make a positive difference to the earth. Bore is located fairly near the equator and therefore would be incredibly efficient at locking down the CO2 from the atmosphere as the trees grow so quickly there. He also had first-hand knowledge of the area and knew how devastated it had become as a result of mass deforestation. A long-term tree planting project in Bore would not only benefit the planet, but would also have an incredibly positive effect on the community, as the trees would also provide them with food, medicines, shelter and protection from the elements and reintroduce biodiversity. In time, it could generate an income for them too. To date, the Word Forest is 11 times the size of Wembley Stadium.

Alex Katana, Ru’s right hand-man and the resident project manager in Bore, mobilised the whole community to get involved with the tree planting, including many of the children who attend Kundeni Primary School. There are around 300 children on their register, many of whom sleep on the premises because it’s simply too far to walk to. Despite the fact that it’s a primary school, several youngsters attend who are in their late teens and early 20s. Their families needed their labour to work the land so they could bring in desperately needed income, consequently, those children missed out on basic schooling. However, many parents reconsidered their position when the Kenyan authorities said all children should be encouraged to get a proper education and supported them to do so.

Educating 300 children at Kundeni Primary School had been a challenge however, as up until recently, they only had one decent classroom which housed around 30 youngsters at a time; it had been provided by another fundraising project headed by Ru. There were a handful of other ramshackle buildings dotted around the grounds, most of which were condemned and a danger to life to be in.

To say thank you for planting the trees, our literary prize also paid for the building materials and labour to construct a new classroom. In late spring 2016, a splendid new classroom was handed over to the Headmaster James Kithi and the children. They are now able to provide twice the amount of students with a safe and comfortable space to learn that keeps them cool in the summer and dry in the winter.

James wrote to us and said that it has already made an enormous difference to the whole community and we are so proud to know the Word Forest and the classroom have been welcomed and embraced. We aren’t stopping there however. As you’ll see from the images in the slider, there is a great need for more chairs, desks and basic resources.

The Mini-MOLPs and the forthcoming MOLP3 (due to open for entries in autumn 2016) are only going to continue the good work that has been done so far. Further resources to help the school are vital and a third classroom is on the cards.

With Ru continuing to be our guiding light, we will honour our commitment to helping the amazing community of Bore in Kenya with great pleasure, and perhaps one day, we will walk through the Word Forest too.

The Team

* Spring 2016 Titles
Blind Cupid: Max Brandt
Children of the Crater: Connor Cadellin McKee
Continental With Juice: James Dunford Wood
Dear Mother: Mark James
Dreaming the Moon: Izzy Robertson
Off Her Facebook: Robert Windsor and Jo Stroud
The Dreamer: Sue Hampton
The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize Anthology 2016
The Pick Up Artist: Chris Hill

Posted on

#MOLP – The Movie

Please enjoy our short film about The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, fondly known as  MOLP.

It is the only literary competition in the world to plant a tree for every entry. Find out what the villagers who planted them in Bore, Kenya have to say about it.

Continue reading #MOLP – The Movie

Posted on

Why Are We Planting Trees for Each Entry to MOLP2 in Kenya?

Children from the Kundeni School, Bore, Kenya
Children of Kundeni Primary School planting our Word Forest

The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize – fondly known as MOLP – was created in 2014 with optimism that it would uncover literary excellence in short stories and poetry from writers all over the world. We also planned for it to be the start of a legacy reforestation project for an African community who were striving to rise above their circumstances.

We set the entry fee at a modest £5 and have kept it the same this year for MOLP2. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that some writers enter the contest spurred on by the possibility of seeing their work in print and the generous £3,000 prize fund.

However, feedback also showed us that some writers got involved because we were offering something quite unique; a commitment to plant a tree for every entry in our Word Forest in Bore, Kenya. Continue reading Why Are We Planting Trees for Each Entry to MOLP2 in Kenya?

Posted on

Should I Enter the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize?

Sand timerAbsolutely!

As it stands, you have absolutely ages to enter our second literary  prize competition but that’s not a reason to put it on your cerebral back burner.

Interestingly enough, we have received a similar numbers of short stories versus poems so far and we’d love to pop a few more onto our ever growing pile of virtual paper!

As you probably know, we are planting a tree for every single entry we receive and we’re enormously excited about the positive impact of our Word Forest which is being coordinated by Ru Hartwell, a man entirely dedicated to countless planting schemes around the world.

Continue reading Should I Enter the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize?

Posted on

The #MOLP Judgemental Gallery

Judges' GalleryWe are delighted to reveal a few behind the scenes images of some of our judges scoring the entries for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize.

Please click here to view the gallery and have a gentle peruse!

More coming soon…

Posted on

Unveiling the Judges for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize

Carl Honoré author & judge for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2015
Carl Honoré author & judge for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize 2015

We are beside ourselves with excitement and delighted to unveil the line up of judges for our literary prize.

We have a unique blend of internationally acclaimed authors, poets, editors, producers, performers, publishers, environmental campaigners, a forestry expert and more from the UK, America, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Please hop across to our dedicated page for the judges and wish them luck as they get their teeth into the entries this weekend!

Continue reading Unveiling the Judges for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize

Posted on

The Only Literary Competition in the World Planting Trees for Every Entry #MOLP

Ru Hartwell: Magic Oxygen Word Forest Co-ordinator
Ru Hartwell: Magic Oxygen Word Forest Co-ordinator

It’s a bit of a bold statement I know, but hand on heart and to the best of our Google-Fu, the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize – fondly referred to as #MOLP – is the only writing competition committed to planting a tree for every single entry received.

We’ll even send the entrant the GPS co-ordinates for their tree!

We’ve teamed up with a truly committed green-soul, Ru Hartwell, the founding director of Treeflights (the first carbon offset planting project of its kind) and actively involved in several other worldwide planting projects, including the Size of Wales, Tree-Nation and the Community Carbon Link Project amongst others.

Ru is the Magic Oxygen Word Forest Co-ordinator and he’s incredibly excited about the possibilities of what our competition could do, if things go as well as we hope and we receive lots of entries.

Ru explains, ‘The trees will be planted together near the Kundeni School in Bore, Kenya. It is quite dry up there so they will be particularly drought resistant types like neem, gmelina and casuarina. These species are mostly grown for their timber which is used for house building and is in high demand down there as there is a bit of an economic boom going on in the coastal resorts.

Continue reading The Only Literary Competition in the World Planting Trees for Every Entry #MOLP