From Pakistan with love
Daily Times - 5 April 2006
by Maria Amir
“It seems that the only logical conclusion for peace is to look for it in children, the message is so simple that it just might ring true,” said Maria Durana, a partner with ‘friends without borders’, the leading organisation behind the “World’s largest love letter.”
The letter, which has travelled throughout India, collecting the sentiments and hopes of Indian children from various schools, districts and even remote villages has finally reached its recipients and the gesture is now being returned with equal enthusiasm. Hundreds of children from schools all over Lahore have signed the ‘golden strip’ in the letter, which is now being referred to as ‘the golden bridge for peace’. The 86,400 square foot letter (360 feet by 249 feet) was first unveiled in Bangalore on January 16 and has since travelled throughout India, growing in both size and sentiment.
Individual pieces of the letter were separated into banners and marched down the streets of Ahmedabad by children from different faiths including children from mosques, synagogues, churches and temples throughout the city.
The letter-head message reads, “Dear children of Pakistan, let’s join our hearts in friendship. Together we can make a better world.”
|* LGS, Convent, Aitchison, Beaconhouse and SOS students sign the ‘golden strip’ to be sent back to India
* World’s largest love letter displayed at Gaddafi Stadium
Students from Lahore Grammar School, the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Aitchison College for Boys, Beaconhouse and SOS village were among the hundreds of children who gathered at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore today to sign the golden strip, which would be returned to India. Children painted posters and chanted slogans of peace for hours, also joining in a song composed for the occasion, linking both countries in a united quest for friendship. “We hope for a lasting friendship with our Indian brothers and sisters and we hope that this letter would help us make friends,” said Ali Raza from SOS village.
“I think this is the best gift from India and hope that we can get more and more signatures and letters to show how much love we have for our Indian brothers and sisters,” said Aaliya Durrani, a student from Lahore Grammar School.
“This letter shows how much love there can be between the two countries if we could only learn to choose friendship over enmity and peace over war. We should tell people in India that we are willing to do so,” said Nosheen Sadiq, another Grammar School student.
Messages such as, “East or west, cant we both be the best?” by Priya from Chandigarh and, “To my brothers and sisters in Pakistan - all we need is ‘real’ friendship, if it is ‘real’ it will last through anything” by K Sathya Murti from St Joseph’s Indian Middle School in Bangalore showed honest emotions are all it really takes to break boundaries.
“The aim of this exercise is to promote person-to-person contact through schools and Friends Without Borders. We have received 11,000 letters from Indian children so far and hope Pakistani children will reciprocate their gesture,” said Maria Durana.
“It is impossible to not be moved by this unprecedented gesture of peace, which is proving to be more powerful than most others in the past,” said Saad Anwar, a visitor. “The millions of scribbled and scrawled emotions that this letter carries leads one to believe that the apathy that exists between both countries may actually be resolved and that children may be ‘just’ the ones to do it.”
“We aim to take the golden strip of the letter back to India as the response from Pakistan, and the rest of the letter which is made from canvas and is durable, will be sent as tent material to the October 8 earthquake victims. The 196 pieces of the border to the letter will be sent to different schools in Pakistan as souvenirs to encourage contact between students of both countries,” said Raza Shahid, a volunteer.
The letter, which may be listed as the largest card in the Guinness Book of World Records, has fast assumed the proportions of a massive campaign. With a documentary film by award winning filmmaker Gopi Desai underway, a book-deal with Mapin Publishing and an army of volunteers, the organisation hopes to launch a movement for peace among children of both countries.