NATIONAL

A long message of love and peace across the border

WITH LOVE FROM INDIA: A giant letter, signed by thousands of Indian school children and addressed to children in Pakistan, on display at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: SHASHI ASHIWAL



Bindu Shajan Perappadan

School children put together the world's largest "love letter"

NEW DELHI: School children from across the country have over the past one year been engaged in knitting together a message of peace and love creating "the world's largest love letter" which is now all set to travel across to Pakistan.

And helping the 360x240-foot letter make this cross-border journey to school children in Lahore will be a group of `sevaks' from Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad who first came up with the idea to unite the `power and goodwill' of children across the borders to bring India and Pakistan closer.

The group left the capital on Thursday on special trucks to Amritsar. Reaching there on March 20, the children will walk across to Lahore carrying the `gigantic gift of love' from India to the children of Pakistan.

Banking on goodwill

"The letter carries with it an important message and invites children across the country to participate in the democratic process. We are banking on the natural goodwill that is associated with children to bring the two countries closer," said John Silliphant speaking about the programme.

"While adults make policies, fight wars and divide countries, children who are affected by the entire process are rarely asked for their opinion or even allowed to participate in the process. This is a goodwill letter exchange programme. Non-government organisations in Pakistan are also engaged in working with children there to write similar letters to their friends back in India which we will be bringing back to the country on our return," he said.

Phase-I

And while the exchange of letters is only Phase-I of the exercise, Phase-II will have celebrities asking every individual in India and Pakistan to go back to their schools and be part of what the `sevaks' hope will be a revolution.

The idea of `exchanging letters' took form a year ago and `sevaks' were successful in networking with school children in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, Ajmer Mumbai and, Kolkata to participate in Phase-I of the programme and put together their `first letter' to their friends across the border.

Making a difference

"The idea behind the programme is really simple. We are just a group of people trying to make a difference and believe in the power of one child writing one letter from the heart, which has the potential to change the world. So imagine if thousands of children from across the two countries write to each other seeking love and peace; the possibilities it opens up are bigger and brighter than anything the countries have witnessed before from children," says Mr. John.

Schools interested in the programme can join in and access information at >www.friendswithoutborders.org or contact Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad.