Number 36 – Became a penpal with someone in prison

I found a website where you can become penpals with people that are incarcerated. I am sure it can be incredibly lonely in prison, and I think communication with the outside world, creating friendships and experiencing positive relationships must all help towards rehabilitation. So today I sent an initial email to someone whose contact details were on the website, and hopefully we can begin mutual correspondence in the near future.

https://www.facebook.com/letters.to.inmates – the website with inmates contact details

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/18/prison-could-be-productive/punishment-fails-rehabilitation-works – an interesting article about rehabilitation

Number 35 – Wrote to someone living in a war-zone

I am a pacifist. I am 100% for the non-violent resolution of conflicts and do not believe a war can ever be won because lives have been lost in the process (and it doesn’t matter which side they were on, whether they were civilians or soldiers, because they were all someone’s children, someone’s parents, someone’s loved ones, and that makes it terrible). 

I do not know what it is like to live in a war-zone, but I know it must be very difficult. If I could, I would write to anyone and everyone who is affected by armed conflict, and tell them I am sorry they are in this dangerous place and hope that peace follows soon. I wish each person safety, and it doesn’t matter to me which side they are on or which country they belong to.

I have spent some time searching the internet trying to find out how I can contact people living in regions of armed conflict, but it is hard to do. The closest thing I have found (for now) is to write to a soldier from the USA. So that is what I did.

My message read something along the lines of:

‘Dear Soldier,

Thank you for being so brave and for being willing to go through so much hardship and danger for other people.

I am actually a pacifist but even though I disagree with armed conflict, I have a deep respect for you and the other soldiers who are trying to make the world a better place. And I wanted to write and tell you that just because I am anti-war does not mean I am ‘anti-soldier’, and I am sending you sincerest love and best wishes.

I would be very interested to learn more about the life you live while deployed. What are the best parts of your day, and what are the worst? As well as a soldier, who are you? What do you like to do?

Peace and love,

Camilla’

http://www.forgottensoldiers.org/write-a-soldier

Number 34 – Supported an animal welfare centre

Lanta Animal Welfare, Thailand is an animal shelter/welfare centre that I am very keen to support.

In 2011/12 I volunteered there for about 5 months, and so know first hand the staff and volunteers there care a great deal about the animals they help and look after, and promote positive changes in the community.

Yesterday, I sent a small donation to them (not much, but it will buy several meals for some of the animals) and shared on Facebook one of their notices seeking flight volunteers (when people from abroad adopt an animal from the shelter, flight volunteers are needed to help get them to their new home country, so I shared a page appealing to people travelling from Thailand to other parts of the world in the next few months to consider helping an animal reach its new home).

If anyone is thinking about volunteering abroad and like working with animals, I strongly suggest considering Lanta Animal Welfare. They really do amazing work and I had a life-changing time there.

http://www.lantaanimalwelfare.com

http://www.facebook.com/lantaanimalwelfare – here you can see things the centre is currently doing, and lots of photos.

If you have any questions or can help with anything, please leave a comment or email me (camilla4peace@hotmail.com).

lanta 3

Myself and the then-manager, Lanta Animal Welfare 2012

Number 33 – Thanks and Easter wishes to people who help the community

This is really only a mini-act I suppose, but I sent some emails to staff at organisations that do important work for our society and who have to work through the Easter holiday. They were not particularly long emails – just thanking them for the work they do for our community and wishing them a happy Easter – but I wanted them to know their work is appreciated.

The people I wrote to are the staff at our local Mental Health Board (who offer a free service for people with mental illness or addictions), the staff at a local home for people with dementia, and the local police station.

Update:

I got a reply from the police station. This made me really happy, as I was wondering if this was worth counting as an act in itself, but after getting this reply, I feel proud to have spread some happiness (and much more than I thought, as I didn’t realise they would actually forward my email to all the police staff).

My message:

Dear Police Service Staff,
Thank you for the work you do.
Sorry if you had to work this Easter, but thank you for making sure we are all ok and our communities are safe.
Best wishes
Camilla

The reply I got:

Dear Camilla
Thank you very much for taking the time to send your message, it was very much appreciated by our
staff who were forwarded it while indeed, working the Easter Holiday weekend.

Warm regards

Andrew [Surname removed for privacy]
Communications Manager

Number 32 – Set up a stall with free plants

Today, I gathered lots of plants from our garden, put them in individual pots and put them on the pavement outside our house for neighbours and passersby to take. Some of them are only young and will look a lot nicer when they flower. There are also succulents and perennials.

We don’t have that many cool plants in our garden, but I thought it would be nice to share what we have, because I am really happy when there are cheap or free plants available as I enjoy gardening but don’t have a huge budget for it (and most of which I spend on vegetables and other stuff we can grow to eat).

Image

Number 31 – Care package for someone in need

I made a care package for someone in need, and will be leaving it near the public toilets in a park near to where I live, with a note saying ‘please take this if you need it’. I chose that spot because homeless people and people going through a rough time often hang out there. Alternatively, if I see someone to give it to while I am there, I will offer it to them personally.

homeless pack

The photo is of what I put in the pack. Baby wipes, hand sanitiser, plasters, baked beans, rice pudding, can opener, cutlery, some snacks and a blanket. The blanket is wool and actually quite big – I thought it could perhaps come in useful as winter is coming.

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Number 30 – Helped promote peace

Anzac Day, the Remembrance Day in Australia and New Zealand, is next week. As in the UK, it is popular to wear a red poppy as a sign of respect to the soldiers who died in wars. The donations from buying the poppies go to supporting ex-servicemen, which I feel is a very important cause.

In recent years, at least in the UK, there is also a (slow) growing trend wearing white poppies, instead of or as well as red poppies. These are worn to symbolise peace and the rejection of war as a way to resolve conflicts, and the donations are used by the Peace Pledge Union to promote peace and research alternatives to militarism and warfare.

Even in the UK, many people are not familiar with the white poppies. Here in New Zealand, they are even less well known. I am hoping to help raise awareness about the Peace Pledge Union and white poppies. I have started this by ‘buying’ (giving a donation) for 10 white poppies, which I will be distributing to friends and family. Also, I contacted the New Zealand branch of Peace Pledge Union and have offered to create a stall selling white poppies and raising awareness about their campaign for Anzac Day next year (I left it a little late this year).

http://www.ppu.org.uk – Peace Pledge Union website

http://www.ppu.org.uk/whitepoppy/index.html – about white poppies

poppy_card

Number 29 – Signed petitions

For day 33 of the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge I was asked to sign a petition I care about. I have decided to search for and sign several petitions about some of the issues I care about. I generally sign petitions if it is an issue I care about and think I can help make a difference, but chose to count this as a separate act as usually I just sign ones I come across via social media, rather than actively searching for many.

The petitions I signed are:

LGBT rights:

‘Stand for a world where transgender individuals are free to define themselves’.

‘President Obama: sign the executive order adding LGBT workplace protections to millions of American jobs’

Environment & nature:

‘Prime Minister John Key and the New Zealand Government : Stop all plans to open up NZ’s coastal waters to offshore oil drilling’

‘Save the Arctic’

‘Urge the EPA to save bees’

‘Take the cage-free pledge’ – against raising caged animals for meat

Human rights & people:

‘Free Pemex Rosina and defend peaceful protest’ –

‘Fight mental illness stigma’

‘Imprisoned for distributing aid: demand justice for Yara Faris’

‘Pregnant and raped: Ethiopian woman languishing in Sudanese jail facing death penalty’ – After international campaigns, this 18 year old lady has now been released from prison and was fined US$900. I am glad she is free but think it is terrible she was imprisoned in the first place, and found guilty of indecency and fined.

‘Protect women around the world’ – For women to have access to facilities including abortion clinics (so they do not have to risk dangerous home-abortions which often result in serious health complications and even death).

The websites I used to access online petitions are:

Number 28 – Give lots of stuff to a charity shop

On a fairly regular basis I take a bag or two of things we no longer need or use to a local charity shop. However, I have decided to count this occasion as a separate act because a) I took quite a lot of stuff this time, and b) I purposely went through the house looking for things to give, as this is also the act for day 32 of the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge.

http://www.charityretail.org.uk/howcharityshopswork.html

Number 27 – Breakfast for a homeless man

This morning I was at the post office quite early, and a homeless man tried to help me by telling me where I could post my letter, which I thought was very kind of him. It was pouring with rain and he was sitting somewhat sheltered but still must have been cold and damp. I wish I had had change on me so I could have given him something more, but I did have a ‘One Square Meal’ bar with me and so gave that to him (‘One Square Meal’ bars are a bit like a meal replacement bar, and full of nutrients and energy).

This is also my act for day 25 of the ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge.

http://www.onesquaremeal.com/balance.html