Tiny hearts to build an Indo-Pak bridge
Friends Without Borders, will help students of the two countries to cement ties across national frontiers
Bombay First - Afternoon - 16 February 2006
It's not just politicians, cricketers and filmstars who are engaged in bridging the gap between India and Pakistan, but even the children are doing their bit. Throughout India, children are writing letters of friendship to children in Pakistan. An inspiring project called "Friends Without Borders", a group dedicated to allowing children to speak to each other, heart-to-heart, across a sometimes-troubled international boundary.
The project starts off this week with three major events designed to bring nationwide attention to this letter-writing campaign.
First, Friends Without Borders will begin airing a Public Service Announcement on television, urging children to write letters to children of Pakistan. Second, on Sunday, the group will hold a major event at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium to unveil the "World's Largest Love Letter" and then the Friends Without Borders "postal delivery journey", carrying the letters, large and small to Pakistan by road will begin.
The catchline of Friends Without Borders is: "A campaign so simple it just might work."
John Silliphant, an official from "Friends Without Borders" group explains, "Children lack the biases that perpetuate conflict. They simply want to be friends. This is an experiment to see what happens when this natural goodwill becomes a factor in international relations."
"Our project is not about politics, it is about people, small people. It is not about peace, it is about friendship. Perhaps it will be about peace in another 20 years when this generation of children grows to adulthood," says Mark Jacobs, another official from "Friends Without Borders" organisation.
To enhance the campaign, the "World's Largest Love Letter" that started the children's movement at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium last month will come to the city and will be unveiled at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, giving an opportunity to thousands of city children to sign the huge letter and add their individual letters and artwork to the tens of thousands already received by "Friends Without Borders".
On February 19, 2006, Wankhede Cricket Stadium will play host to one of the most remarkable events in the history of human correspondence, the unveiling of the "World's Largest Love Letter".
Written in Urdu, Hindi, and English, the signatures of thousands of Indian children frame this central message on all sides. Camlin has generously furnished the art materials used by the children to append their good wishes, drawings, and names.
The letter is indeed enormous, measuring 120 yards by 80 yards. The "parchment" on which it is written consists of gigantic tarpaulins. Till date the project has collected more than 30,000 letters written by children from across India.
The convoy will head for Ahmedabad for a smaller public event at the Gandhi Ashram on February 25. The ashram is home to "Friends Without Borders" parent NGO, Manav Sadhna, which has been providing innovative social services to the children and families who have been neglected by society for more than 15 years.
From Ahmedabad, the "post" will head north-west to Kutch, then northward to Amritsar, following a route along the India-Pakistan border. This fourteen-day journey will take them through small towns and villages, allowing them time to stop at schools and collect letters from children they meet along the way. On March 20, the tarpaulins will be taken by NGOs to earthquake-ravaged areas for use in constructing emergency shelters. The smaller tarpaulins and individual letters will be distributed to schools throughout Pakistan.
|It may be long before the law of love will be recognised in international affairs. The machineries of government stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another. -- M.K. Gandhi|