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Kenya’s Claire Gakii (centre) receives the award of the winner of the International Letter Writing Competition for Young People from the Universal Postal Union Director General Mr. Masahiko Metoki (right) and his deputy Osvald Marjan in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She beat about 1.7 million others to clinch the coveted prize.

Kenya's Claire Gakii Wins Global Letter Writing Competition

Clare Gakii from Kenya is the winner of the 52nd edition of the International Letter Writing Competition for Young People organized by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the United Nations specialized agency for the postal sector.

Gakii floored 1.7 million other entrants from across 35 countries to clinch the top position, in the annual competition, which is part of activities to mark the World Post Day which falls on 10th October.

Matilde Maghalhaes Silva, 11 and Dao Khuog Dui, 12, from Portugal and Vietman came in second and third respectively. The three top winners were feted at the UPU Extraordinary Congress on 5th October in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This year’s competition organized by the UPU and United Nations Road Safety Fund. sought to have children imagine themselves as superheroes, and what they would do to make roads around the word safer for children.

The 13-year-old grade 7 student at Lions Junior Secondary School in Embu County was elated at her incredible achievement, which catapulted her to the top of the world.

In her award-winning letter, Claire who wants to be a robotic engineer, details how she would use robots to minimize road traffic crashes by designing and deploying safe solar powered robots, and working together with children, parents and policy makers to enhance road safety.

The UPU Director General Masahiko Metoki hailed Claire’s letter for demonstrating proactive and innovative solutions to stem road carnage.

‘‘Claire’s superpowers are, in fact, actions that even regular people can take. She highlights that, by working together with children through training and education, community engagement and policymaking, we can achieve our critical collective mission,” said the UPU Director General Masahiko Metoki.

Her parents Isaac Mugo and Daisy Kagendo say Gakii’s writing prowess manifested earlier in life, and as parents, they have been nurturing her through enabling her read a broad range of books and regular writing.

The UPU win crowns other accolades she has received locally, including winning essays on environmental and wildlife conservation by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Giraffe Centre.

She has also been a regular contributor to children content in local dailies. Her father says she already has written five (5) fiction book, which require support of a publisher to enable her realize her dreams as a budding author.

‘‘We never expected she could top the world. God has favoured her. This really came as a shock to us. She is very passionate about writing. As parents, we have been supporting through buying enough books and pens,’’ said Mr. Mugo.

Claire’s mother challenged other parents to encourage children to pursue their talents. ‘‘I'm so happy but I know there’s much more to be done. It takes time and encouragement. We are truly grateful to the Universal Postal Union for this opportunity,’’ said Ms. Kagendo.

Kenya’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oginga Ogego led the Kenyan delegation to the Extraordinary Congress congratulated Claire for her incredible achievement. Also present to witness this momentous occasion is the Post Master General, Mr. John Tonui.

In Nairobi, Claire was awarded KSh. 100,000 for her win. Submissions to the global round of the competition were judged by an international jury convened by the UPU.