Aaghaz-e-Dosti is a joint Indo-Pak Friendship initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC. Aaghaz-e-Dosti organises interactive sessions in schools and colleges (aman chaupals), talks and discussions in colleges, indopak peace calendar and video conferencing to bridge the gaps of misunderstandings between Indians and Pakistanis.
Following the dastardly Peshawar incident, the whole world including Pakistan’s immediate neighbour India sent messages of peace to Pakistan. NRI Samay from New Jersey started a Kids Beyond Borders movement aimed at sending messages, letters, drawings, poems, and stories to their friends in Pakistan who were scared of the and live in danger. Kids Beyond Borders was facilitated by Aaghaz-e-Dosti. Pens not guns, Words not bullets was the theme of the initiative. Many American kids of Indian origin eagerly participated in the KBB movement; while one school in particular sent about 20 letters. Students from Los Angeles also sent messages of love and hope. Suresh Ediga from NRI Samay, who originally hails from Hyderabad, South India remarks that “We let the kids express their thoughts through the mediums of drawing, painting, and writing. We just made part of an attempt to bring some sanity. Education shouldn’t be an act of bravery and kids shouldn’t be an act of revenge.”
It takes legendary courage to return to the place of that ghastly act of terrorism but the brave kids of APS made it. While ISPR dedicated a song translating as ‘he struts around like some tough enemy, but he targets children’ to elevate courage and hopes of the children, Abdur Rauf Yousufzai, coordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti Peshawar chapter met the children in the school and shared with them the hopes sent by kids from another part of the world. A child named Marissa had wrote in her letter “Math and Science is good for learning. Don’t be scared be brave it’s good to be brave. It’s okay to be scared though. Face your fear.” Another kid Damian had written “Dear friend! Go to school, keep learning and make the world a better place. Don’t be afraid.”
The kids who were killed left behind grief and those who saw horrid scenes in front of their eyes and were shot mercilessly will always have scarred minds, bodies and lifestyles. The letters, poems, and drawings all reiterate the words of solace by Milne — ‘Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think’. The eyes of the students sparkled as they received the messages and letters of hope. A student remarked “Please say thanks to the friends who sent the letters. I am not scared. I will go to school every day”. A parent who had lost one child in the attack said “The letter is moving. All I can send back is blessings and love to all little angels in the world”. These letters will help the children gain strength and courage; something they all need to heal the deep wounds. Welcome back to school. Dream high APS! We, the children of the world, are with you.
Press release issued by
Aliya Harir and Devika Mittal