Saleha Hamdeen, a fourteen-year-old Bedouin from Palestine, won the International Hans Christian Andersen Award for her fairy tale, “Hantoush,” which was chosen from among more than 1,200 fairy tale entries from all over the world.
I live in a small tent in the Abu Hindi valley. During the day I attend the El Khassab School, which was made with Bamboo sticks. The Israeli soldiers took our agricultural land, closed it off and turned it into a shooting range for their practice. My 70 sheep live in the tent with me. After school, I milk the sheep and make cheese that I sell to the townspeople.
The streets are rough and unpaved because the soldiers use them for shooting and training at night. I hate the sound of the bullets and machine guns, it drives me crazy to hear it and I want to run away, to escape. I do not have a bicycle, I do not have a car, but I do have something I use to escape.
Sh-h-h, get closer, get closer! I will tell you my secret. I have a flying sheep! His name is Hantoush. He is black with long ears and 2 wings that he hides under his fleece. He only takes them out when I want to escape and whisper in his ear, “Hantoush, my lamb, spread your wings from under your wool!” I sing this in his ear when the soldiers start shooting! Then, I climb on his back and ride to the skies. Yesterday, we flew to Barcelona!
Let me tell you something about the valley of Abu Hindi, there is no soccer field because the land is a mine field. So Hantoush and I fly to Barcelona where we met Messi, the famous soccer player with the most scored goals! We played soccer with him for long hours! Hantoush, my sheep was the goalie. I was friends with Messi and his team. We scored 5 goals!
Messi wants me and Hantoush on his team in Barcelona, but we had to decline his offer as we have to go back to Abu Hindi to care for the other sheep. They are waiting for me. Who else can milk them and care for them? My father has been in jail for the last 6 years and he has 19 years more to go.
Let me tell you another secret. Sh-h-h, come closer. In two years, Messi will visit Abu Hindi and we are going to hold the 2014 World Cup at the Valley of Abu Hindi! Together, we are going to clean the field from mines and build the largest stadium in the world. We are going to name it Hantoush Field! The mascot will be a lamb! All are welcome – we are all waiting!