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Sight Screen

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hoopla from the heart

From Mark Jacobs, this mail:
I read with interest the post dated 29 Dec 05, regarding the Bajaj campaign to collect expressions of good luck to the Indian team in connection with the upcoming series in Pakistan. "Let the hoopla begin!" you wrote. Here's a heads-up on some hoopla with heart.
On 16 January 2006, as the opening test at Lahore is beginning its fourth day, another event of real significance to Indian-Pakistani relations will be occurring at a world-renown cricket venue. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore will host the unveiling of the worlds largest letter, a letter of peace and friendship. The text of the letter is simple. In Hindi, Urdu, and English, it will read: "To the Children of Pakistan, Let's all join hands in friendship. Together we can make a better world. The Children of India."
The letter's "stationary" itself is quite interesting. Measuring 120 meters by 80 meters, it is comprised of tarpaulins which, after the letter is delivered to Pakistan, can be broken up into individual units and distributed in earthquake-ravaged areas.
The project was the brainchild of John Silliphant and Mark Peters, two Americans who have dedicated their lives to seva, both in the US and here in India. They began a couple months ago, visiting schools as their travels took them to various cities in India, collecting letters of friendship from the children of India to give to the children of Pakistan. From talking with so many children it's evident they lack the biases that perpetuate conflict, and simply want to be friends. By harnessing this goodwill and presenting it as a gift to the kids of Pakistan, we believe that real connections will be formed that will inevitably mature into a more peaceful world.
The project has so far collected tens of thousands of letters from hundreds of schools across India -- and the buzz is starting to catch fire. The initiative has become the focus of a documentary film by the Indian filmmaker Gopi Desai, and it has received a book deal with Mapin Publishing, and will be the subject of Public Service Announcements on Sony Entertainment Television. Exhibitions of selected artwork and letters from this project will exhibited throughout India and Pakistan.
The project has received invaluable support from media outlets as well as at the grass roots level. This new component of the project -- creating the "world's largest letter" -- owes special thanks to the participation of the magnificent Bangalore artist John Devaraj, founder of the Born Free Art School, and the support of the Karnataka State Cricket Association and Chinnaswamy Stadium.
We are hopeful that the unveiling of the letter at Chinnaswamy Stadium will be covered live by whichever network is awarded the television rights to the test series, and that it will be filmed by satellite for display on Google Earth.
We are inviting thousands of children to participate in an inaugural presentation of the letter, where the kids can come and sign the letter and be part of a truly historic event. We are also hoping that this event will cause news of the project to reach all the schools of India, and turn the already substantial flow of peace letters into a torrent or good will.
We would like for "the world's largest letter" to have similar signing ceremonies at cricket stadiums throughout India before it makes its journey to Pakistan.
Anyone interested in learning more about the project can visit the Friends Without Borders Website. Teachers, school administrators, or others interested in facilitating the letter writing campaign can contact the project at kid2kid@gmail.com. Any person or company who wishes to support this project in any way, in-kind or financially, is also welcome to contact the project team.
The reason that cricket offers such awesome instrument of good will is that it connects people to people, rather than governments to governments -- and it does so in a way which highlights commonality, not difference, in an environment of pure joy and high spirits. This letter writing project is based on the same principles. We welcome the support of Sight Screen readers of all ages!

More on Mark Jacobs here. And here.

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