The Goodwill Tribe's 'Letters in the time of Corona' initiative aims to cheer up those feeling under the weather

The Goodwill Tribe’s latest initiative is to send anonymous letters of hope, love and support to those going through a rough time in the wake of this pandemic. You can join in too

April 07, 2020 04:26 pm | Updated 04:26 pm IST

Volunteers writing letters at an earlier event

Volunteers writing letters at an earlier event

It was yet another mundane Monday. Juliet (name changed), a teacher to autistic children, stepped out of her house feeling low and in dire need of encouragement. Her work had, for long, been undervalued by her family and peers. Just as she left the gate, a bundle of letters caught her eye. Little did she know, that these would change the way she felt. These were letters from complete strangers. Each appreciating her selfless work, and motivating her to carry on. They also had one thread in common: that of kindness.

The letters to Juliet were sent by volunteers of The Goodwill Tribe, an organisation started in 2013 by Sonia Parekh and Chandni Sawlani, to inspire compassion and human interaction. “We are rooted in the belief that human connection driven by empathy for fellow human beings can indeed make this world a more connected place,” says Sonia. The Goodwill Tribe conducts activities focussing on the power of small acts of kindness to create change in the world. These include writing and posting letters of love to strangers (Letter Earthlings), charity drives, open-mic nights around themes of compassion and hope, and kindness missions among others.

You’ve got mail

You’ve got mail

Their latest initiative is called Letters in the time of Corona, a digital version of their traditional letter writing format. The initiative was suggested by Nivendra Uduman, one of their volunteers from Sri Lanka. “We are delivering letters of love, hope, and support. If you know someone who is having it rough because of the pandemic, you can request a bundle of letters for them,” explains Sonia. This could be anyone who is anxious about the future, has lost their job, is finding it difficult to cope with social isolation, needs words of reassurance... In fact, one could request letters for themselves too. All one needs to do is fill up a form that is available on their Facebook and Instagram pages and share details about the person, their story and what they are going through. The team then writes a bunch (usually around three to five letters) of emails to the recipient. This exercise started last Saturday and the team has already received 100-plus requests for letters.

There is also a form for those who wish to enrol as a volunteer and write these letters. Volunteers from each chapter then respond to requests sent from people across the world. Starting in Dubai, The Goodwill Tribe is now present in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Goa, Delhi, Sydney and Kuwait. Some of their members engage with them virtually from London, Germany and other parts of the world.

“We let the volunteers read the stories and respond to those they connect with,” says Sonia. The letters being sent out are heartfelt, filled with positivity and love. They are encouraged not to make it religious or political. “The recipients are a mixed bag, really. There are students, children, senior citizens,” she says. Some of the recipients write back, some don’t. There is no rule though; no expectations, either. But sometimes the warm replies that the team receives makes them realise why it is important to keep adding value to people’s lives.

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