Gabby with the handwritten letters she collected
I will try to convey to you all that Letters of Love means to me, but this is near impossible as Letters of Love means so much more to me than can be expressed in words. I found Letters of Love as a 12 year old, searching for a Bat Mitzvah project requirement I needed to fulfill, but I ended up finding a family that always seems to renew my faith in humanity. Learning about the Refugee Crisis, I saw myself in the eyes of the heart-broken children. I started to collect letters, but after finding no where to send them, I searched and emailed and called and searched some more until I found Letters of Love. I soaked up the description on the website and reached out to my soon to be role model and incredible friend, Pooja (the founder of LOL). She got back to me and we video-called, but little did I know how this would change my life.
I am now a Student Ambassador Co-leader at Letters and I have learnt a lot so far (being 15 now) and know this is just the beginning of my journey.
I often go through times where I feel overwhelmed by the darkness in the world and the tragedies that fill my news feed. I cry seeing the next victims murdered, their loved ones' pain, the hate of the offender, and I am left lost, helpless, scared, and stuck. One time after a school shooting in the US, a LOL student ambassador decided to do a drive for the school affected. This showed me that I am not stuck. That I can do something that will actually help in a situation so horrifying. This realization was empowering. And everytime I give presentations about the Refugee Crisis, I am taken aback by the genuine empathy I see in my peers eyes and in the letters they write. It restores my hope in this world. My hope is that this love will only grow and I feel so lucky to be a part of something that can’t sit still when there’s love to spread.
With gratitude and love,
Gabby leads the Student Ambassador Programme of Letters of Love, a programme inspired by her which currently is a community of 30+ incredible high school students from 17 countries. Aside school work and other academic commitments, these teenagers raise awareness, inculcate empathy amongst peers, carry out letter writing drives, pop-ups in public spaces, Letters of Love clubs and co-curriculars, arrange for field visits and psychosocial support workshops et al and constantly works towards empowering displaced communities. They also use letters as a medium to address social issues int heir own local communities around gender, gun violence, climate, prison reform, war veterans etc. All our Student Ambassadors are mentored and guided by Pooja Pradeep, an exceptional Educator and our Founder alongside Ella Neville, an incredible Teacher based out of Boston, USA and our Educational Programs Manager.
2019 marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of Children (CRC30) and November 20th marking World Children's Day, we decided to celebrate our young changemakers, those who are empowering their contemporaries born in unfortunate circumstances, doing whatever they can, with whatever they have, wherever they are. Watch a video here where they tell you why they believe that 'Children hould be seen AND heard'.
In other news, Pooja on behalf of the organisation was invited to attend the UNHCR Nansen Award Ceremony at Geneva in early October where she along with Paul Hutchings, Co-Founder of Refugee Support Europe, briefly interacted with Azizbek Ashurov, the Nansen Awardee 2019, and chatted on the importance of volunteering. Letters of Love being an entirely volunteer run and led organisation, supported by your genorosity makes us a force of nature that spreads joy to ten thousands of refugee children.
We're moving into the giving season and are hoping for your support to continue our work in 2020 with more partners and collaborations already onboard (YAY!)
Leaving you with a warm hug of words,
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better; it's not!"
We're counting on you!
Thank you very much.
Sean at his Pop-Up, collecting letters, in Dubai
Pooja & Paul with Azizbek Ashurov at Nansen Awards
LOL Club of King's Academy,Jordan on a field visit
Sensitisation Workshop led by Malek in Palestine
Eric leading a Sensitisation Workshop in Florida