Letters of Love in the time of Corona

Penning support during these unprecedented times.

It’s been weeks since we first heard of the COVID-19 outbreak. Unlike pandemics or disasters we’ve heard of before, the viral outbreak of 2020 affected everyone in one way or the other. 

Letters Earthlings was a small initiative with the intention of connecting strangers across the world through good old letters. In response to the pandemic and its effects, we felt the need to reignite the same project to inspire human connection and kindness, this time through letters written digitally.

Hence the project ‘Letters of Love in the time of Corona’. We started the project in the first month of April. This was just about the same time when most countries in the world put in place stringent social distancing measures and lockdowns. The idea was to enable anyone to request a letter for someone they know, anywhere in the world to help them cope through the current crisis. The letter would be written by a letter writer from anywhere in the world who would pick up the request. The letter would then be emailed to the person it was requested to.

We established forms that enabled strangers to request letters for someone who was having it tough. This could be someone who had lost their job, was very anxious about the uncertain future, was finding it difficult to cope with social isolation – anyone really who they thought could do with some extra love and support. The form when filled would detail the person’s name, their e-mail ID and a brief of the message to be delivered. A letter request could also could also be made for the person requesting the letter themselves.

We also opened up the doors to letter writers, people who would chose to volunteer to write the heartfelt bundles of letters after the requests were received.

So far, over 825 letters have been emailed to strangers across the globe.

Over the six weeks, we had 364 letter writers sign up from 22 different countries. As for the requests, we received 285 letter requests from 18 different countries. The response has been overwhelming and it’s been a journey of both healing and relief experienced by both the writers and recipients. We’ve received messages that tell of happiness and heartfelt appreciation from those who have received the letters. Despite the distance, good old letters continue to inspire and spread love and hope.

The pandemic may still not be over, but as the world slowly recovers, we’ve come to realize we all have the power to deeply empathize. Digital letters of love continue to inspire the human connection, to spread kindness and love even to strangers we may never meet.

We were a team of 5 of us working behind the scenes on this campaign and amidst these trying times, facilitating this project uplifted us in deep and beautiful ways. Read more from one of our team mates here.

 

Love letters to the self

‘Love is all we need’

Lines that we know so well. When you read them, did you think of another person? That’s natural, it is our concept of love. But there is another kind of love, a love that exists only between you and yourself. It is self-love and perhaps the most important kind of love there is. For if we do not love and embrace ourselves wholly, how can we give that kind of love to anyone else?

Usually at our Letter Earthlings events, we get together to write letters of support and encouragement to strangers going through a tough time. At this event in Pune however, we decided to write letters of self-love to ourselves. Everyone present was invited to write two letters – one expressing appreciation to themselves for the person that they are and another to their future selves that we will post to them in 6 months. It was so lovely to have people from all age groups with us! From 10 year old Reet, to her grand mother Geeta.

Pournima, the lovely lady behind our Pune chapter, brought some magic to the event with her colourful fortune cookies. Each (handmade) cookie, had within it a self love related affirmation. We went around a circle, sharing the fortune we had received. They read lines like, ‘I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening and will happen because I know that everything is towards my highest good’, ‘I am full of joy and vitality – I am unstoppable’ etc. Most people shared that the message they received was exactly what they needed to hear 🙂

As always the evening left us with peaceful vibes. We’re glad to get to share these experience with community!

If you feel like you’d like to write a letter to your future self. Here’s a fun tool that will help you do just that!

Picture credits : Shutterbug Clickzzz

 

Multiple forms of Wealth

Here we are 3 and a half years since The Goodwill Tribe first started, and looking back, we had no idea we’d get this far. All we wanted to do was find a way to pump more love, kindness and connection into our world. We were often told that in order to stick around or scale we’d need financial resources. To keep it simple, we said to ourselves that we’d ask ourselves that question the day the need arises. Perhaps it has now, but, we’d like to share with you what we’ve discovered through our journey and the multiple powerful forms of wealth we have come to acknowledge.

The wealth of shared dreams
Everything started when Sonia reached out to Chandni with her big and beautiful dreams to spread kindness. Chandni sat back and listened amazed at how they were exactly aligned with their dreams. In the years to follow, their friends in other cities who also shared the dream started to align with us, bringing strength and scale to our cause. And then the community started to grow. We are now a team of about 35 people held together by the undeniable force of our shared dream.

The wealth of inspiration
Everything begins with a spark of inspiration. It’s never easy to pin point the exact moment, but it happened somewhere, because of someone, through something. It created that feeling that we all know so well, when the spirit is uplifted, the heart sings and the mind believes it can achieve anything. We found inspiration in the humble work of other people like Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space, Sheetal Sanghvi, founder of The Urban Ashram, Hannah Brecher, the heart behind More Love Letters, Nivendra Uduman who threw a love letter writing party when we were in University and then went on to start Letter Earthlings, and so many other people. We’ve been inspired by all the content on kindness that is shared through the internet. We’ve been inspired by the million little moments of love and compassion we’ve witnessed in the world around us. And the list goes on, we feel so abundant in inspiration.

The wealth of time
Everyone on the team spends between 8 to 16 hours a month working on The Goodwill Tribe projects. They’ve chosen to be generous with their time and contribute it towards working for humanity. Everyone who comes for an event is taking time out of their lives because they believe in a better world. They’re taking time to deepen their inherent goodness, tap into their kindness capacity and connect with strangers. We appreciate the wealth of time that has been contributed to shape and sustain The Goodwill Tribe.

The wealth of ideas
We believe that reality is what you make it. And we’ve been exposed to so many amazing ideas of what our world could be. Our events have all been designed around rich ideas that have evolved in people’s minds. Each person in the tribe has astounded us with their creative ideas to inspire kindness and connection.

The wealth of community
At a Letter Earthlings event, we invite people to bring stationary from their own homes and they do! Sometimes we need help prepping for an event and reach out to the community. People respond, they turn up to help out. When we’re hosting an event outdoors it’s not surprising for people to come armed with a flask of tea and biscuits to share. We’re truly experiencing the power of community. This is what our world once was like, with people living together in close knit groups, where everyone took care of each other. We are aware of the wealth of community and are glad to watch it show its face, it is always guiding and supporting us with our intention and in our actions.

The wealth of technology
Our work has been possible only through the gift of technology. It is through the power of the Internet that members from 12 different Goodwill Tribe chapters around the world have come together on this shared mission. Many chapters have come into being because of a chance stumbling upon our website. Most of us have not met each other, yet are strongly connected through technology that brings us closer. We’ve got a Whatsapp group that is our channel for daily updates and stories. We use Skype to run our operations and on-board new chapters in any part of the world. We gather together on a monthly call on Zoom (a video conferencing software) to share stories, learning’s and inspiration. We bank on our Website and our Facebook page to get the word out about all of our events. Our blog is our voice to the world, it’s where we share the amazing moments we’ve experienced through our experiments with kindness and regular Skype calls and email ensures we are running operationally smooth. Beyond this, we believe that all these inspiring digital instances of kindness and compassion trigger many subtle and invisible ripples of goodness in the world!

It is only recently that we became aware of the multiple forms of wealth we have been tapping into all along, but it’s the thread that holds this blanket of compassion together. It’s a powerful thought to know that all of us are abundant in so many ways beyond financial resources. We feel full with all that we do every day.

We ask you to take a look at your life, and all the little pieces that make it what it is. Appreciate the wealth, you are abundant 🙂

 

Parcels, Post and Handwritten Letters.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone you love? When was the last time you wrote something that came straight out of that soft place within with no filters?

As I signed up to start the Mumbai Chapter of The Goodwill Tribe in Mumbai, I had one inherent feeling, I want to do more and give back more to life for all the abundance and gifts life gives me everyday! We, Grafleen and I, the organisers of the Bombay event organically picked the Letter Earthlings event to start the Bombay Chapter.
So we were asked, why this dying form of handwritten letters? We said, exactly why.

A handwritten letter apart from the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a close friend’s day with your efforts, science has linked expressive writing better mood, reduced stress and overall well-being. Apart from that writing a letter, putting pen to paper requires unplugging from all the technology you’re bombarded with! We all want to live in in NOW – well, here’s a secret! I discovered that letter-writing, just by sitting to write something special to someone – your thumbs won’t be able to scroll another one of those endless Facebook feeds which refresh by the second, hell you’d also have to put your texting and whatsapp aside to someone who actually will fill your mind space as you put your thoughts to paper! For those few minutes you’re in the NOW and nowhere else. I’m always craving for that ‘extra bandwidth’ and no I’m not referring to a slow Wifi connection. Go figure.

On 18th of March 2017, we kicked off the Letter Earthlings event and the overwhelming response to the event has me wondering – wow, how much love can we spread? The sky is the limit and more.

How did we go about it? We created events on Facebook, EventsHigh, Allevents, Little Black Book wrote about us, Mumbai Mirror also listed our event and we had a large turnout of about 20+ people and most of these were absolute strangers. So, in essence 20+ strangers came together to write letters to more strangers! The icing on the cake was the journo from DNA who turned up to take pictures and bytes, our little attempt will now probably make it to the papers, watch out for us!

Gratitude is such a powerful tool, it opens up the doors to the endless possibilities of the universe and I have to say all of this would be incomplete without Chandni and Sonia, the founders from Dubai – Chandni was there, helping us in the event. Thanks girls – for all the input, advice, ideas and for allowing us to run the event in a decentralised sort of way where we added our Mumbai flavour while retaining the overall feel of The Goodwill Tribe. Also Grafleen, my multi-talented co-organiser who designed artistic posters for the event, connected to DNA and Mumbai Mirror, organised the requests and so much more. We synced so organically while organising the event, it felt like we’d known each other for ages. More power to us girl, this is just the beginning!

Now for all you gifted people who attended, thanks for coming and making this extra special from Ravi who turned up very early and generously gifted us about 20 self-stamped envelopes, Harsh for helping out with some of the organising from space to table seating and then providing a request on short notice, Mann for wearing his Happy Hat, Shweta M, Shweta and Siddhant – the siblings, Prerna, Ujjwal, Tharangini and Anirudh, Ratnesh, Kavya and Harshita – the chirpy collegians, Niki and Shruti, Ashish – the composed writer, Suneet for his valuable feedback, Rashmi for helping us organise the letters with her neat labelling, Parthivi, Proscila, Bhavika for her post on Little Black Book which brought Grafleen and me together, Anubha and Ishita, Tejal and Priyanka – thanks you guys, for making our first event so special! All of your sharing and feedback is very important to us and we promise to keep you hooked. Watch this space for more!

The Goodwill Tribe and Letter Earthlings, thank you for inviting us to participate in a slice of immortality – long after we’re all gone, these letters will remain to be read, appreciated and preserved.