The "Letters of Love" initiative #1000Speak

by - October 19, 2015

Image source: Letters of Love

For those of you who do follow Humans of New York (HoNY) - you know that Brandon Stanton recently visited the most gut-wrenching aftermaths of the madness that has engulfed Syria - the displaced families forced to flee their country. His pictures and the stories that they brought with them were heartbreaking honestly and just reiterated the one truth that always shines through in every conflict started by political leaders -  that the true victims of war are the ones who did not even participate or support it.

Millions of families were displaced from their homeland and sent away, begging even today for refuge in countries across the world. Sadly, many families lost their loved ones too, including fathers, mothers and yes, even children.
I will not get into the details of 'who started what' in this war simply because it does not matter to me. At the end of the day, I cannot see a child in tears and think of her religion or nationality before trying to make her smile.

Luckily, where there are monsters who wear the robes of elected leaders, there are also angels who wear a more simpler attire and walk everyday beside us. They too hurt when they see the suffering and wonder if they can do anything about it.

Letters of Love

Pooja Pradeep is one of the latter group, an engineering graduate who decided she wanted to do something about it after watching the haunting images of the children from Syria whose lives had been ruined for a reason they could not even understand. Rather than become lost in the avalanche of initiatives to raise funds, this 23 year old decided she wanted to give the children something that would last - emotional support.

With this idea in mind was born the concept of Letters of Love.
The concept is this - all those who are willing are requested to send in 'happy' pictures of themselves along with a short 3-4 line message of encouragement for these children from Syria who now live in refugee camps and feel they have lost everything in their lives. The pictures will be converted into post cards and your words translated into Arabic (the native language of the children) and handwritten on to the back of the card.

The images could be anything positive:

  • Your best smile
  • Blowing a kiss
  • You and your friends
  • You with your pets
  • You holding flowers
  • Words - cheery and feelgood in tone, ideally, rather than taking on a sympathetic voice.
  • Things to avoid - selfies (they may get cropped while converting into post card format), images with food or materialistic goods (it may hit a raw nerve for a child who has lost everything) and obscene gestures. 

Image source: Letters of Love
Some of the 100+ images already sent in. You can find more
at their Instagram and Twitter sites.

The idea is to deliver all these post cards via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the children across various refugee camps by NEW YEAR 2016. So while you do still have some time, you don't have A LOT of time. The best part:
You really don't have to do anything. Just find your happiest photo, think of a few lines of encouragement you would like to share to a child who is scared and thinks nobody cares about him/her and write it down.
Then send it as a Facebook inbox message to Letters of Love. Pooja et al will look after the rest, including translation and couriering all of it by mid-December.

If you have ever been alone or suffered a moment of loss, you know what it would have meant to have someone tell you that they were thinking about you - that you mattered to them. (I pray you did not but) you may also have been unfortunate to have had to suffer your worst moments alone, watching everyone you cared about disappear in your time of need. 

If so, you know what it would be like to get a ray of hope from an unlikely source. Hand written words and a smile telling you that you are not forgotten... that you matter to someone.

To a child who had lost his/her parents, home and land, I think it would matter. I think it could make the difference between them giving up on humanity and starting to hope once more. I think it could make the difference between a path of hatred & distrust or a path of love & forgiveness that they choose growing up. 

Anyway, I will be sending in my picture as soon as I decide upon which silly face of mine would really make a kid giggle the most. I am writing this because: 
a) this is the kind of idea that I would love to see succeed, 
b) what is the point of having all these followers across social media if I can't make a positive difference when it matters most and most importantly 
c) I am hoping you - wherever you are reading this from - will join me. 

What do you say we spread a few smiles and make a lot of children happy this New Year?

These are some of the images I have provisionally
saved with the idea of sending one of them.
Which one would you recommend?
Or do you think you can make me do nuttier stuff to make a kid smile? 

Author's note:
I am also linking this to #1000Speak in the hope that it helps Letters of Love reach a far wider audience. To quote Yvonne"1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. "

This month, #1000Speak focuses on Love. A thousand bloggers across the planet write in on a topic that most of us have dealt with in the hope of inspiring you to have faith in the good that exists all around you.  You can also find #1000Speak on Facebook,Twitter, the blog or just by typing down the hashtag #1000Speak on social media.

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  1. The one with Snoopikos. Dogs have such a beautiful way of touching hearts and making little kids smile. Would love to join but not sure I want my face in the picture.

  2. Soumya PrasadJuly 03, 2018

    This is such a lovely initiative! And I so love the collage with Snoopy being the hero :P

    I shall be sending out a picture of mine to Pooja right away. I shall even have my friends do it. Thank you for letting me know about it.

  3. Pooja PradeepJuly 03, 2018

    Thank you so much for your overwhelming support Mr.Roshan :) .Hopefully we shall get a lot more letters of love to get them cuties to smile wide and bright :D
    Also , I am in solidarity with the rest . Get Snoopy in the picture . I'm sure your Syrian child will treasure your letter of love :'D
    Thank you once again :)

    Much love & power to you,
    Pooja Pradeep.

  4. What a fabulous initiative! Your pictures are very cute :)
    Thank you for sharing! I will certainly take part :)

  5. Thanks Parul. Glad to hear that :) The more the merrier, do share the message and see if you can get others to join as well...

  6. Glad to help, Pooja. Touchwood, can help spread the word a bit further and get a few more like-minded people to join in.
    And yes, as always, Snoopy wins! Especially when the alternative is pictures with JUST me in it :D

  7. The collage is only temporary for now to show case some of the pics I found - mostly I guess the Snoopy pic will be sent :D

  8. Suzy, Snoopikos it is in the lead so far. And as regards "face in pic", not necessary - with all that creativity stored in you, I am sure you can find a pic which will make a child smile without having a face in it!

  9. Sunita RajwadeJuly 03, 2018

    I like you with the cast and support your idea ! Great work

  10. Hehe... you are the first one to choose a different pic.. finally! :D Please do consider sending a pic and some kind words for the cause.

  11. I will certainly look into this initiative - it sounds wonderful. I also like you with the cast best.

  12. Sunita RajwadeJuly 03, 2018

    Sadly, I don't haver any funny pictures - the camera is never there when I'm caught in a funny situation ;(

  13. Disha DineshJuly 03, 2018

    I want to help. Do more. Will send pictures and messages soon, but tell me how I can help.

  14. Spread the word on social media. Directly tag your friends and ask them. It is something we do everyday - make faces and take pics of ourselves. Only this time it is for a good cause finally. They don't have to spend any money. They probably have awesome pics of themselves on their mobile already which could make a child smile.
    In the end, it is just about getting them to do it.

  15. Haha... suddenly, my cast pic is giving competition to Snoopy! Yay :D

  16. Such a brilliant idea this one is. Thanks for sharing Roshan. My favourite - the balloon picture. This was/is the cheapest of toys that my kids still like to fool around with, so I'm a bit partial. You, of course, look dashing in all of them :-).

  17. Great initiative. I think the one where you are being drenched, would do the trick.

  18. Quiet GirlJuly 03, 2018

    First time here and Im suggesting the puppy one.... all kids love kittens and puppies!!

  19. How about just one of kindness - you holding a bright flower or a lit candle?

  20. You know what - a part of me was very partial towards that balloon pic. That's why I added it there. But Snoopy seems to have influenced the bloggers (YET AGAIN! HMMPH!!!) :D

  21. hehe.. okay. So now we get someone ready to choose this too... makes my decision harder :)

  22. What a lovely initiative, Roshan. Thanks for introducing us to it. You know I'll go with #1! :)

  23. Welcome... loving your blog. Lots of nice, insightful posts. And yes, I did go with the puppy one :)

  24. haha... yes, he did win in the end. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if I end up getting cropped out of the pic myself!! (HMMMPH!)

  25. I love the one with the balloon, because I think most kids will identify with that! The one with the puppy is also very cute!

  26. That is such a thoughtful thing to do.. I loved the initiative and now sending a picture right away.. I am sure my friends too will love to be a part of this brilliant cause..!!

    Thanks for sharing :)


  27. This is such a nice post and a lovely gesture. Thank you for sharing. :)

  28. In the end, I went with the one with the puppy. Snoopy wins the day again :)

  29. Thanks. The more the merrier. We may not be able to change everyone's lives but we can atleast influence a few with a dose of happiness.

  30. Glad you liked it. Do consider sending one yourself :)


Let me know what you think.