By Aliya Harir
Pooja lives in Chandigarh, India. Fatima lives in Lahore, Pakistan. Though the cities are located at a distance of only 5 hours, the borders have increased the distance. But hopes are high! Amid the surprise visit of PM Modi in Lahore, Fatima and Pooja too have this innocent wish that one day they will be able to surprise their friend across the border.
Yuvsatta (youth for peace) an NGO which has formed Peace Clubs in over 100 Schools and organizes an annual Global Youth Peace Fest in the peace city Chandigarh, is facilitating an exchange of New Year cards between the students of Knowledge Inn Preparatory School (KIPS), Lahore, Pakistan and Carmel Convent School (CCS), Chandigarh, India. Aliya Harir, Youth Ambassador of Change appointed by Yuvsatta in Pakistan shared that aim of this card exchange is to strengthen virtues of nonviolence and friendship in young minds and revive old traditions for developing new connections between people of India and Pakistan.
Guided by Ritu Yadav, teacher at CCS and Namra Nasir, Research and Development Head at KIPS, the students made around 200 plus cards and letters, all carrying messages of peace, love and friendship for their friends across barbed wires.
Coordinator of Yuvsatta, Mr. Pramod Sharma says, “We believe in fostering peace, love, and affection between the people of India and Pakistan. It is important that peace emanate from students who are at a formative stage, the most important stage for inculcation of right values, and of fostering love and brotherhood. Exchange of greeting cards will not only promote goodwill and friendship at the grass root level, but it will also help the students grow as collaborators in the long run.”
Collecting the cards at KIPS, filled with the genuine good will remarks, Namra Nasir remarked that “Wishes and prayers always spread a positive aura, no matter where they come from. When they are sent and received across the borders, they portray a good omen, precedent of stronger bonds of peace and friendship. May the peace activism of the students be auspicious for Indo-Pak friendship, for the New Year 2016 and the years to come!”
“Distance does not matter, happy New Year my friend” wrote a student from India, to which a student from Pakistan replied “Whatever color your skin may be, whatever your religion may be, whatever your situation may be, I wish you good health, lots of love and possibilities of peace.”
The cards from Pakistan also aimed at the hope for end of Indo-Pak conflict in the New Year. “We cannot really go back in time and make a brand new start. Let’s start from now and make a new ending. Let’s be friends in the new year.”
Many of the cards expressed desires to meet each other.
“One day I want to meet you, and I hope we can be great friends,” wrote a student from Carmel Convent School. Another student from the same school wrote in the New Year card that she “would like to come visit you in Pakistan.”
A card maker offered kind words. “I am so happy to have received your New Year card,” pondered Zoha Khan from KIPS “I hope you get good grades in your final exams. Never let anything demotivate you.” Although they had never met, the kids expressed kindness and love in their letters. “You’re the best friend that I never met. Happy new year” Kiran wrote from Carmel Convent School.
While many of the kids exchanged artwork depicting snowman, peace bird, mountains, some kids also drew the two flags together. Upon receipt, some of those lovely cards, some students from KIPS immediately sat down and wrote responses, Namra said.
Ritu Yadav facilitating the exchange of cards from Carmel Convent School, Chandigarh says “the idea behind the new year cards exchange is simple. It enables kids across barbed wires to communicate with one another and send each other greetings and felicitations. Children create hopes where politics create chaos. They make friends when war only makes enemies.”
Sr. Maria Swati A.C., Principal of Carmel Convent School said “Such exchanges are really helpful in changing outlook of kids on lives of students their age from their neighbor countries. They show that something as simple as a greeting card is enough to connect two people who their textbooks call enemies. They’re feeling overwhelmed by facilitating this exchange and are hopeful that Yuvsatta will be able to continue bringing India and Pakistan closer year after year.”
“By allowing students in both the countries to write letters of friendship, love and peace to their fellow students across the border, we aim to dwell in them thoughts that are positive and facilitating” Pramod Sharma said.