‘To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything by your heart’ – Phyllis Theroux.
Theroux might have only considered the joyous feeling of the writer of the letter. But the ecstatic feeling of the person reading the letter is a feeling inexplicable. The envelope encases not just the letter but the warmth and love that is packed in by the sender.
Banking on this emotion, The Goodwill Tribe – Nagpur chapter hosted its flagship event, ‘Letter Earthlings’. People as good as 100 of them from all age groups came together at a cutesy café and wrote around 170 letters in total! The theme of the event was to weave words of kindness and love to cancer survivors.
We are sure you must already know by now what and how does the ‘The Goodwill Tribe’ work. If not, then find this article to equip you with the details you’ve missed out on.
Dubai-based Chandni Sawlani and Sonia Parekh initiated The Goodwill Tribe to 'foster deep human connections through small acts of kindness'. They started out in 2013 and have successfully spread kindness through random, small acts. Today, The Goodwill Tribe has spread its wings from Sydney, Australia to Pune, India, the notion being exactly the same in every city.
The Nagpur Chapter was started a few months back with ‘Letter earthlings’ marking as the opening event. With the success of this event, the city now has its official chapter, FTW!
Echoing the same sentiments, Mandar Pandhare and his team set out to gather details of the cancer survivors they and their friends knew of. The search sealed with the information and basic brief of about 25 of such fighters. The next step was to get people to enroll for letter writing.
Says Shubham, one of the organizers, “Initially when we started out, we were mostly skeptical than hopeful that people would actually turn up for this event. People knew our event was happening but they did not know what exactly it was. Just like we skip something we don’t understand while reading and lose interest, we feared this might happen to our event too. But with daily posts on the social networking sites clarified people’s doubts and the registrations started shooting up.”
Ask him about how did the registration scene turn out on the event day, he says, “I was expecting at least 80 out the 150 registrations that we had garnered. But much to my surprise, the number was 96 and I couldn’t have been any happier.”
But as the date of the event was drawing closer, the Tribe was rest assured as they had already crossed 90 registrations and the number still growing. Looking at the response, the organizers decided to keep on-spot registrations open for those souls who’d have changed their mind last minute.
On the D-day, the event kicked off with a swarm of crowd beelined even before 5 pm. Also welcoming the Tribe was the unexpected showers which most feared would dampen the spirit of the event.
Gauri Shembhekar, another organizer who was handling the part of briefing and sensitizing the letter writers, said, “We were only 10 minutes into the event that the rains came in unwelcomed. I was like, this is it. There was a huge crowd already and many were still joining in. Seeing the people still making it despite the rain being a spoiler gave us a push and in no time we were guiding the crowd, briefing them, arranging back the disrupted setting and even enjoying the mess, for that matter!”
Ask her if the disturbed arrangement irked the attendee and she proudly denies me. “At no point did I see the writers get irritated or frustrated. They almost made us feel like nothing really happened and that it was their event as ours. They were even ready to sit down on the floor when there was a slight shortage of space, and all of this when they were drenched.”
The incredible response, in fact, made the rains get a move on and clear skies for the enthusiastic bunch of attendees. We caught up some of the peeps who wrote to their heart’s content.
Vicky Padole, a final year student of S.B. Jain College of Engineering couldn’t stop gushing about how overwhelmed he felt about the event. “I had absolutely no idea about how this event was going to be conducted. All I knew was I had to just go and write a letter. When I was given the brief (a parchment consisting the survivor’s details), it took me a good time to let the information sink in for it was engulfing. The details of the recipient said he was an active fellow who was always on his toes and here I was, procrastinating and putting off work without any reason. Even the brief for the second letter which had the details about a lady who doubled up as a mother, a professional etc couldn’t have encouraged me more. I was left wondering what can I write to such souls who are already making the most of their lives,” says Vicky.
“I was in awe of the way the event was organized. I had the volunteers who walked up to me to even ask if I needed water or any more stationary,” he said.
Vicky although laments, “I wish this was a monthly event and we could all just get together just like this to write a couple of letters every now and then.”
The event saw a seven-year-old who walked in with her 'didi' to write a letter to a five-year-old cancer survivor.
A cutesy mumma came with her one-year-old baby girl and her husband who took turns to rock the baby while the other wrote a letter.
People used myriad of colors and plethora of stickers to express their love. Some even gave away the bookmarks with their letters which the organisers gave them as a token of appreciation.
Another attendee, Husain shares his experience with us. "For me, this event was very personal. I lost a friend who was more like a brother to me sometime last year. Through my letter to my recipient, I jotted down everything I would've said to my friend after all my recipient is someone's friend too. I felt relieved after pouring my heart out." Husain also points out that he was surprised to see such a good number of people to turn up at the event. "Nagpur being a Tier 2 city the number of people who actually attendee was really huge. I didn't think people would be interested in something like getting together to write letters at a cozy little cafe."
Ask him if like Vicky he'd want it to be monthly, he quips a 'Yes' quickly. "Not many events like these happen in Nagpur and if they're actually happening for once, then I'm whole heartedly in support of it."
Nuff said! For an event like this, a thousand times over.
We’ll now let the pictures do the talking!