Yesterday was the end of the Amnesty International Write for Rights campaign, which I mentioned in one of my previous posts Stay Home and Do Nothing. I thought that you might all like to know how I got on with this campaign.
I had planned to write one letter a day throughout the campaign until I reached my pledged target of ten letters with a few days to spare. However, life did not transpire as I originally planned it.
I spent the first half of December in a state of grief. No-one died, but I was feeling the loss of someone very dear to me from my life. I was feeling especially depressed with it being near to Christmas which is a time that should be spent with those dearest to you.
Anyway, that is a separate story. The Write for Rights campaign was the trigger for me to get a little motivation back into my life. I woke up on Wednesday knowing that I was going to hit my target and nothing would stop me. I read through all of the campaign material and decided in what order I would approach each of the twelve different cases.
There are twelve cases that you can write letters on. Amnesty International provide you with a basic letter on each case for you to plagiarise and then write out by hand. These letters are addressed to the relevant official who has it in their power to help the subject of each case. And so I found myself writing a number of letters where I was addressing a powerful stranger as ‘Excellency’, ‘President’ or ‘Majesty’.
You should then compose a letter of support to either the victim or their family to show support and solidarity. There is no sample letter for this but just a few pointers as to what tone the letter should have.
The cases this year range from prisoners of conscience to child brides to victims of torture and rape by a country’s own security forces.
You all probably realise where my particular passions lie and so there will be little surprise that the case that I tackled first was one of illegal child marriages. In Burkino Faso, child marriage is illegal but nevertheless tolerated by the authorities. The example that Amnesty International quoted was of one school aged girl who had managed to run away and into their care after being threatened with death by her father if she did not marry a man who is not only aged in his 70s but who already has five wives.
My letter of solidarity was to all of the child bride victims in Burkino Faso. Writing a short letter to the girls helped to get me into the swing of things, so to speak, for the rest of the campaign. And so, although it originally seemed that I would not get time to write letters for no more than three cases because of the pressures of work and other obligations, I managed to hand-write letters to officials plus complete the accompanying solidarity letters for the ten cases that I originally pledged.
So, I went to the post office today armed with 19 letters – not 20 as one letter of solidarity was requested to be made via a specially created tumblr account rather than by mail. There was one young lady serving at the Post Office counter with a sign saying she was in training. She was very proficient, however, so this sign was a little deceptive.
A lady started queuing behind me and I noticed that she only wanted just one first class stamp. I gave her one of mine from my wallet and I told her that I still had a dozen letters to get through so not to worry about paying me.
The total postage was less than I thought it would be and so I treated Gloria and myself to a burger at the top of Portsdown Hill. We’ve now got a Christmas cake in the oven that we’re making for my Mum.
So, will I host a letter writing party next year rather than just do this on my own? Hmm…I don’t know. Looking on the map of letter writers, there were only two of us located in a forty mile stretch along the south coast of England. If every household in Britain contributed just one letter, that would treble the number of letters written worldwide. More letter writing parties could make this a reality. Yes, that is a thought – maybe I should host a party next year.
We’ll see what happens. I can’t promise anything if work is too hectic to assign a specific evening – but I definitely will write letters myself and tell other people about this whole campaign.