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 Children  India Project #36645

Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children

by Letters of Love Inc
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Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gift Handwritten Letters to 10000 Refugee Children
Gabby with the handwritten letters she collected
Gabby with the handwritten letters she collected

Dear Friend,

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.


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
Sean at his Pop-Up, collecting letters, in Dubai
Pooja & Paul with Azizbek Ashurov at Nansen Awards
Pooja & Paul with Azizbek Ashurov at Nansen Awards
LOL Club of King's Academy,Jordan on a field visit
LOL Club of King's Academy,Jordan on a field visit
Sensitisation Workshop led by Malek in Palestine
Sensitisation Workshop led by Malek in Palestine
Eric leading a Sensitisation Workshop in Florida
Eric leading a Sensitisation Workshop in Florida

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Dear Diary,

Hello! I want to write about today.
Today was such a fun day! We started the day with making birds and rockets out of coloured paper. It's called origami. We made around 50 colourful birds which we will hang in the classroom tomorrow.We then played cricket and also learnt how to play football. I scored 1 goal but my team lost. I'm still happy.

After that we spoke about who we want to be when we grow up so that we could draw balloons on the wall and write our ambition in a balloon. I want to be a doctor so I wrote that on a pink balloon on the wall. I want to learn how to be better at English so that I can write more things on the wall.

I wish they would keep coming to school every day. Coming to class is a lot of fun now and even the teachers love it.

I can't wait for tomorrow. Didi promised us that we'l be painting on rocks and will also get ice cream. I love ice cream! I will write about it tomorrow.

Bye for now.

( Diary entry written by Ali, a 11 year old Rohingya refugee boy after Day 4 of the Welcome Refugees Fest 2019, shared here with his permission )

Letters of Love in collaboration with a handful of incredible organisations, local and international, hosted its first ever week-long 'Welcome Refugees' fest at the Roghinya Refugee Camp in New Delhi. From 14th June, there were games, recreational activities, art, dance and sports workshops, educational talks et al leading up to World Refugee Day on June 20.

Every day from 9am -12pm, a team of 25 youngsters from all over New Delhi, India, trained by the Letters of Love team led by Pooja, our Founder & Executive Director, spent time with 50+ children in the makeshift school at the camp, doing a myriad of things from playing games, engaging them with arts and crafts, teaming them up to compete against each other to conducting empathy-centric activities. In an effort to build bridges, the final day was open to visitors in order to encourage friendships and connections where 15 visitors showed up, particpated in activities with the children and also bought the hand painted cards, painted rocks and other craft work the children have done over the past week. All the sales were forwarded to the school. We also provided snacks and lunch for the children throughout the course of the fest. Ice creams were evidently their favourite :)


The teachers of the school took part as well and thoroughly enjoyed having expert volunteers impart new skill-sets to the children. Needless to say, the children enjoyed it thoroughly!

Thank YOU for enabling this joy.
We are truly grateful to your generous heart!

This was a pilot project connecting the local youth with the migrant community in the area and was a huge success. Letters of Love team is now gearing up for more projects in refugee hotspots around the world, leveraging our youth network to impart psychosocial support to refugee children.

We are counting on your support. Please stay tuned.


Here's to doing whatever we can, with whatever we have, wherever we are :)

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Love, all the way from Syria.
Love, all the way from Syria.

"Dear friend,
My name is Ali and I'm 7 years old. I am very happy to get your letter. It made me happy. The colours are very pretty and thank you for the stickers. I keep them safe in my bag.
I am from Aleppo. Now I live in Swaida. A bomb dropped on my house and it is pieces now. So we had to come here. My father and sister are not with us anymore. I don't know where they are. I'm here with my mother and brothers. We love to play outside a lot. What games do you like ? I want to become a doctor when i grow up so that I can treat people around me. They're all suffering. I will go to school one day again. 
I hope you like my drawings. 
Please come visit us with your friends.We will play.
Hugs.
Ali."

(Letter translated from Arabic verbatim, written by Ali, a 7 year old internally displaced child in Syria, to his pen-pal in India)

Letters of Love's Pen Pal Project for the third time in two years facilitated the exchange of hundred pen-pal letters and continues to foster these incredible friendships across lines of conflict. In collaboration with Clap Global, an educational entity that leverages travellers in local classrooms to encourage cross-cultural learning, our trainers conducted sensitisation workshops in schools across Mumbai, India. The students once sensitised to the global refugee crises using the Syrian war and its consequential refugee crisis as a case study were inspired to come up with action oriented ways to help the community. Encouraging them to write letters, asking questions, explaining about their own identity and culture and allowing them to articulate through art and colours yielded joy and a sense of responsibility amongst students. 

Our Syrian chapter based out of Al-Swaida in Syria, hosted a full day of fun activities and psychosocial support workshops in which the Pen Pal Project was facilitated on their end. The children received the letters and wrote back to their friends and also made endearing drawings. They insited on hand making envelopes and all of them were labelled 'Love from Syria!'.

Due to logistical restraints owing to shipment to and from a war torn country, the whole process took 8 months but was indeed, worth the wait.

Thank YOU for enabling these magical friendships :)
We are truly grateful to your generous heart!

Letters of Love team is now gearing up for World Refugee Day 2019 on June 20th and are counting on your support. Please stay tuned.

Here's to doing whatever we can, with whatever we have, wherever we are.

Letters of Love-Syrian Chapter spreading smiles.
Letters of Love-Syrian Chapter spreading smiles.
His letter to his Syrian friend
His letter to his Syrian friend
Birth of magical friendships.
Birth of magical friendships.

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Joy at Skaramagkas Refugee Camp, Athens.
Joy at Skaramagkas Refugee Camp, Athens.

Letters of Love for its New Year 2019 campaign sent out heartfelt, handwritten notes of best wishes to more than 13,000 Syrian, Iraqi, Yazidi, Palestinian, Afghan, South Sudanese and Rohingya refugee children. During October-December, we also sensitised more than 3000 students in classrooms around the world towards the escalating refugee crises, fostered 90 pen pal friendships, empowered 20 Student Ambassadors and piloted our competitive fellowship program- Starthrowers- with 12 incredible high school students and are kickstarting their individual social change projects this year.

Sharing a few highlights that accompanied the dawn of 2019 with you:

  • Our Syria Chapter comprising of Educators and youth volunteers from Swaida, Syria, conducted a series of workshops with more than 50 internally displaced children in the area. Our Syria Operations Manager, Rasha Falhout, conducted our Pen Pal Project where handwritten letters written by school students in Mumbai, India, were gifted to each child and they all wrote letters back to their newly made friends. The workshops also comprised of fun activities and games. You can see the joy here.

  • In collaboration with El Sistema Greece, the Digital Overlord of Letters of Love, Tom Vaillant and I visited Skaramagkas Refugee Camp, the largest refugee camp in mainland Greece, and spent a week delivering art, dance and photography workshops to the refugee children at the camp. Find the anecdotes I penned down here.

  • Lina Alaraj, our Palestine Operations Manager, conducted 2 workshops in Balata Camp and Al Deisheh Camp in Palestine for more than a 100 Palestinian refugee children. The workshops consited of letter writing, games and arts and craft workshops.

  • With Youth For Peace International, our local implementation partner, we delivered letters to 150 Rohingya refugee children in New Delhi, India. Learning materials, winter clothes, and toys were also distributed to the children.

  • Letters were distributed to the UNHCR camps in South Sudan and Malawi tending to around 400 refugee children. These letters apart from being tokens of love and hope are also used as learning materials in their community centres.


Happiest Update and a Note of Gratitude:
Owing to the success of our New Year Campaign, we now have a request for 80,000 letters for all the refugee children at the UNHCR Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, which we hope to deliver by Universal Children's Day on Nov 20, 2019. Thank you for your generous contribution and for believing in our team- a bunch of 30 youth volunteers from 11 countries. We hope to continue having your support as our motivation and these smiles wouldn't be a reality without your kindness. Thank you for your heart.

Here's to doing whatever we can, with whatever we have, wherever we are.

All our love.

To help us spread more smiles, donate with Globalgiving here.

Joy at UNHCR Camp, South Sudan.
Joy at UNHCR Camp, South Sudan.
Joy at Balata Youth Group Centre, Palestine.
Joy at Balata Youth Group Centre, Palestine.
Joy at Skaramagkas Refugee Camp, Athens.
Joy at Skaramagkas Refugee Camp, Athens.
Joy at Balata Youth Group Centre, Palestine.
Joy at Balata Youth Group Centre, Palestine.
Letters of Love team in Swaida, Syria.
Letters of Love team in Swaida, Syria.
Letters of Love-Syrian Chapter spreading smiles.
Letters of Love-Syrian Chapter spreading smiles.

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Organization Information

Letters of Love Inc

Location: New Castle, DE - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lettersoflove18
Project Leader:
Pooja Pradeep
Mumbai, Maharashtra India
$14,856 raised of $30,000 goal
 
251 donations
$15,144 to go
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