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We began with a stack of spiral-bound notebooks, their pages crisp and empty. Almost half a year later, those notebooks are filling with stories both imagined and real. Together they form a tapestry of the gift that Kiran bestows: what true resilience looks like; what is possible once you learn to see the world through a lens of forgiveness, generosity, and love. Often, when I bring the notebooks home to read through, I find myself knocked over by the sheer force of the words on the page — in their fierce rawness, they are the most powerful stories I have ever encountered, both as a teacher and a reader.

The program was designed to last just a month: we would meet three times a week, over the course of a sweltering, rainless July. There were worksheets aplenty in the beginning: fill-in-the-blank poems, tables to describe a scene as completely as possible, diagrams to break personal memories down into structured narratives. We wrote collaborative short stories, divided into groups to make neighbourhood maps, and wrote letters to local authorities detailing solutions for change.

But the real magic began once school started and schedules filled up, leaving time for only one creative writing class a week. Calendars crowded with tests and exams and not every member of our original 25-strong cohort could attend regularly. No matter. The art of learning to write creatively does not lie in style, tone, or even voice.

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Creative Writing as a Healing Force – Natasha Japanwala