“Respond” Award Winning Poems 2015/2016

UHRSN is proud to announce the Winners of the Human Rights Poetry Competition “Respond”. With more than 700 poems from 93 countries the “RESPOND” poetry competition set a powerful sign regarding the plights refugees are facing all over the world.

The poems we received, are a moving compilation of personal stories and an emphatic reminder that human rights belong to everyone, everywhere. Emerging from one of the worst years for refugees that the world has ever seen, the submitted poems are documents of historic relevance.

Every line of more than 100.000 words we have received is an urgent and implicit call to action. 

It’s our time to show responsibility in society and stand up for refugees through all available means.

respond countries participants

The Top 10 Poems

  1.  “M-moments” by Lind Grant-Oyeye (1st Prize, 300 Euros)
  2.  “Not My Child” by Lindsay Oliver (2nd Prize, 200 Euros)
  3.  “Suitcase of Life” by Esma Dziho (3rd Prize, 100 Euros)
  4.  “For Aylan” by Laura Taylor
  5.  “The Crossing” by Marion Osieyo
  6.  “Osmosis” by Priscilla Takondwa Semphere
  7.  “Silence Noise” by Safoora Masood
  8.  “A Welcome Distraction” by Kauser Parveen
  9.  “Taking A Break” by Fiona D. Kelly
  10.  “Refugees Rescued” by Stanley Arumugam

The Shortlist

Read the full shortlist here.

The E-Book

The Judges

Tomi Adeaga
Judge Tomi AdeagaTomi Adeaga is a Nigerian who has lived and studied in Germany since 1992, where she received her doctorate degree in 2004. Her current research interests include translation studies and the African Diasporic studies in Europe. She is the author of the book entitled: Translating and Publishing African Language(s) and Literature(s): Examples from Nigeria, Ghana and Germany (2006). She has also written a number of articles in literary journals and book contributions and most recently in the book entitled: African Love Stories; An Anthology (2006) She has also been engaged in humanitarian work and she is a member of the European Academy, which takes her round Germany, where she presents papers on various aspects of African development. She is also a member of the African Concern Organisation (NGO) in Paris, France.

Richard Mabala
Judge Richard MabalaRichard Mabala was born British and after graduating as a teacher went to Tanzania as a volunteer and fell in love with the country.  He became a Tanzanian citizen and has taught in secondary schools, teacher colleges and the university of Dar es Salaam.  Finally he decided he was more activist than academic and was founder member of several of Tanzania’s most influential NGOs (for gender and education).  After an 8 year stint with UNICEF where he worked to develop and prioritise adolescent programmes, he decided he wanted to go back to working directly with adolescents and young people.  He left UNICEF and joined together with two young people to set up TAMASHA, a youth participatory development centre based in Arusha Tanzania which works with young people to develop their capacity and advocate for their rights in societies where there is often little acceptance, even now, of the potential of young people once they are given the chance. Mabala is also a writer of children’s books, training manuals in life skills, gender and youth development and satirical columns in the newspapers.

Ashura Kayupayupa
Ashura KayupayupaCurrently Ashura is studying an MA in Human Rights at the University of Vienna. Her work outside of school in societies, clubs and youth organizations is what led her to pursue a law degree and work in human rights. It was the opportunity of a lifetime in 2013, February when she was sponsored by UN-WFP to climb the highest mountain in Africa Kilimanjaro. After the climbing she reached over 500 students in schools across Tanzania to empower girls and youth to pursue an education and follow their dreams despite the socio-economic challenges. Ashura is Project Officer of the Universal Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN) and responsible for creating, organizing content, organizing events and protests and managing the UHRSN social media accounts to secure and promote the vision and standards set by UHRSN throughout its work.


Robert Fellner
Robert Fellner JudgeRobert is founder and head of the Universal Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN). UHRSN is a student run movement based in Vienna which seeks to amplify the voices of the next generation of human rights defenders. Robert is an experienced webcontent and social media manager and recently conducted the online communication of Amnesty Austria’s LGBTI campaign #RespectDiversity. In the last months Robert had the technical Lead of Amnesty International’s first Massive Open Online Course Rights1x: The Right To Freedom of Expression. Robert has conducted workshops focusing on education technology and innovative methodology in Egypt, Russia, Poland and Austria. From 2010 to 2012 Robert worked as lecturer at Ain Shams University in Cairo teaching language, poetry and scientific methods. Robert studied literature and human rights in Graz, Vienna and London.

Athanasia Zagorianou
athanasiaAthanasia Zagorianou is a human rights researcher and author. She holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in Human Rights Law from Strathclyde University, UK and a Bachelor (BA) in Political Sciences and History from Panteion University, Greece. She is a researcher and member of Citizens Rights Watch’s Trustees Council and a freelance/volunteer researcher and author in a variety of human rights issues.




The Organisers

Michael Teufel, Ashura Kayupayupa and Robert Fellner organised this year’s human rights poetry competition RESPOND.

Michael Teufel

Michael Teufel OrganizerMichael is currently enrolled for a Master’s degree in Human Rights at the University of Vienna, Austria. Having previously completed a BA degree in Human Sciences specialising in Development Studies at the University of South Africa, he has also worked in different capacities for various NGOs and community-based organisations in the vicinity of Durban, KwaZulu Natal, for more than seven years. He has been involved in numerous projects involving orphans and vulnerable children as well as mentoring communities in setting up their own community-based organisations, among other things. These experiences have shaped Michael and fuelled his passion for community development, children’s rights and gender equality.