India Loves You Pak

Sumeda, St. Xaviers Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh

Hello friends,

How are you? I am very glad to send you this letter. I love my country and I want that there should be peace happiness. I know that you also want that the people of your country should live happily without any war and fighting for religion. I don’t know that from my letter everything will be alright but I know that one person could understand my feeling and that is you. I want you to understand and make others also.

We Want Peace And Love Only

Pallavi, XI-G, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh

a campaign so simple, it just might work…“. It all started in early August 2005 when John Silliphant and Mark Peters, deeply involved in a tree planting project in Ahmedabad, found out that they had to leave the country within the week to get their Indian visas renewed. What to do? They decided to make the best of this expensive and unwelcomed proposition by collecting cards and letters of friendship from school children in Ahmedabad to take to school children in Pakistan. At their first school, they got 700 cards; in 2 days, they had 3,000. Overwhelmed by the positive response of the kids, they decided to continue to collect cards on their way to cross the border. In three days in Chandigarh, they collected 7,000 cards, letters, poems and drawings. By the time they got to Delhi (and secured a 3-month visa extension), they had over 20,000 and had captured the attention of Gopi Desai, a documentary filmmaker.

By early October, John was very ill and was forced to return to the care of Jayeshbhai and Anarben in Ahmedabad and Mark P. decided to spend a month in Pakistan doing what he could for earthquake relief. The project was put on hold.

Mark and I returned to Pondicherry from Sudan December 17 to find that John had blitzed through Pondicherry that day, not knowing we were back, and was now in Bangalore. Since Bangalore is an overnight bus ride away, we decided to join them for a few days, starting December 28.

“Where are you?” “Meet us at the cricket stadium – we’re going to measure it – we’re at G1.” “OK.”

“This would make a perfect picture” Mark P. says as we stand on the grass at M. Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore, looking at one of the light towers. “If we shoot from that light tower, we can get the whole letter and all the kids.” “Do you think we can get the stadium?” “The guys are supposed to come back from lunch by 2:30pm, let’s go talk to them now.”

The “letter” is going to be the “world’s largest letter”, painted on a tarpaulin measuring 80 yards by 120 yards, a letter of friendship from the children of India to the children of Pakistan. The body of the letter will have a message written in Urdu, Hindi, and English: To the children of Pakistan. Let’s join hearts. Together we can make a better world. The children of India. There will be smaller tarps laced to the main “letter”, which will be signed by the children of each school. Upon delivery, the smaller tarps will be given to schools in Pakistan to promote a school-to-school exchange of letters. The “world’s largest letter” will be cut into smaller pieces and distributed in the earthquake ravaged areas of Pakistan.

Forty minutes after rejecting the proposal to hold the inaugural ceremony of the unveiling of the “world’s largest letter” with 20,000 children in attendance at Chinnaswamy Stadium, the Secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, former cricket star Brijesh Patel, asks what day we would like the stadium. We chose January 16, the fourth day of the first cricket test match between India and Pakistan in Lahore.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a satellite picture of the “world’s largest letter?” “I wonder if we could get whatever channel is awarded the telecast of the test match to show feeds from the ceremony during breaks in the game.” “Do you think we can get public service announcements ready to be shown on other media channels that day?”

Spot Image wants to know the coordinates of Chinnaswamy stadium so that they can position their satellites. Ten Sports will show feeds from the ceremony at Chinnaswamy, filmed by NDTV, during the telecast of the test match. Mehgna and Gopi Desai are going to edit footage that Gopi’s crew has already shot at the offices of PlanetRead and BookBox in Mumbai.

On January 16th, we will invite all the school children of India to participate in this project. Then we will take the “world’s largest letter” on the road to major metropolitan areas in India between Bangalore and the Pakistan border: Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Amritsar. The letter will then be delivered to Pakistan and tour the major cities there before being donated for earthquake relief.

See you in Bangalore.

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