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Manipur boy bags global poster prize

Imphal, July 19: Tongbram Mahesh Singh always dreamt of becoming a famous artist. He took the first step towards the big league after bagging the “grand prize” in the 2013-14 Lions International Peace Poster Contest.

Mahesh, a Class VII student from Moirang, located on the fringes of Loktak lake in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, received the award that carries $ 5,000 prize money and a memento during the 97th annual Lions Clubs International Convention held in Toronto from July 4 to 8.

Members of Lions 322 District felicitated the young artist here today to celebrate his achievement, as his poster emerged the winner among entries from participants in 208 Lions member countries.

More than 4,00,000 students from across the globe submitted posters for 2013-14. Entries were judged for originality, artistic merit and portrayal of the theme Our World, Our Future.

Mahesh represented his image through children of different countries coming together to paint the world in peace.

“I am very happy on winning the prize. I always wanted to be a successful artist. And I think winning the prize is a step forward in my efforts. Like me, all children want to play with their friends. We can play when we are free from violence and war,” Mahesh said.

The Lions 322 District, which covers the northeastern states, has more reasons to celebrate since Mahesh is the second youngster from Manipur to win this award.

Raj Phairembam, also from Moirang, won a similar prize in the 2011-12 edition of the poster contest on the theme Children Know Peace.

“India has second largest Lions population with 2.2 lakh members, next to the US, which has a Lions population of 3.1 lakh. Raj and Mahesh are the only Indians to win the competition,” Lions 322 District governor H. Manikumar said.

Lions International organises poster competitions every year with different themes for the children in the age group of 11 to 13 years.

Mahesh expressed gratitude to the owner and “teacher” of the private boarding house for students where he stays. The boarding is located near the Little Birds School at Moirang, where he studies.

“Our teacher, Yumkhaibam Premjit, taught us how to draw, hold the brush and colour. I also consulted him while working on my prize-winning poster,” he said.

His mother Moirang Leima, a homemaker, is supporting his son’s artistic activities. The family of three survive on the pension they receive after her husband, a havildar in the police department, died in a road accident in 2005.

Mahesh’s younger sister T. Meenarani, who is speech and hearing-impaired, studies in Class II.

Leima has deposited the cash prize as fixed deposit in a bank to fund the education of her two children.