Right after World Emoji day, with thoughts all webbed, I left from my office (PostMoji) to Manav Foundation- an NGO that helps people dealing with mental issues in a progressive manner. It was time we delivered the pieces of happiness and the love that we received from all across the country for them! The one thought that accompanied me throughout my one hour long cab journey was - are they even going to understand the thought behind our campaign?
We launched ‘Postcard For A Stranger’ a campaign to spread awareness for Mental Health in the first week of July, with the idea to turn our favorite emojis into a symbol of power for Mental Health, on World Emoji Day. For many of us, breaking into a smile even on a bad day is not that big a deal, we do it very often. But for some, that very smile is a humongous task. Mental illness is a battle for life, and that very thought can be very demotivating. The fact that one has to fight it whenever it chooses to appear and win it - can be very exhausting; isolating you from the world around. So we reached out to the clients at Manav Foundation, who are battling different forms of mental illness with a simple of goal of giving them a reason and a constant reminder to smile.
In the middle of all the chaos caused by the Mumbai monsoons, I got off my cab and began walking towards the building. Manav Foundation breathes positivity in an old rustic building, soaked in a sepia filter, right in the heart of Grant Road. As I walked up the narrow staircase and into the door, I felt I was home. Some places survive on vibes - and this was one of them. I was welcomed by Sadiya, a counsellor at Manav Foundation. Someone I had been speaking & coordinating with since the beginning.
I was taken to their meeting hall, where all their clients were sitting, forming a huge circle. They hooted as I entered and were extremely excited about the Mojis, so was I. Every client there was well aware of his/her issue and was open to talking about it to me. They patiently waited as I started distributing the Mojis as per the names on the cards. They ripped the package in excitement and removed their Mojis and placed it on their face! They looked thrilled and more so after they read your messages on the little postcard inside. They were keen on knowing why we did this little activity for them - to which my answer was "so you could smile wider". All the clients were battling different issues, from being completely isolated to substance abuse to depression and anxiety. But when I turned to say the last goodbye before I left, there was one thing common between all of them - their wide smile! 🙂
We had asked people from across the country to send a postcard to a stranger in need, with no idea of whom they were sending it to. It was a tiny gesture, but after my visit to Manav I am led to believe that it was a lot more powerful than we had thought. After meeting with all the clients, the coordinators at Manav told us that for a few this was their first meaningful interaction with a person outside their immediate circle; it was the first time they felt so included in a such a regular real world activity and that perfectly explained the atmosphere and mood in the room that went from a lot of excitement to a lot of gratitude and emotion in a few minutes. Sealed with a positive message, to them the Moji was positivity in itself. A small but a real step towards their healing. And we couldn’t have done it without those of you, who were unquestioningly willing to spread some empathy and kindness. For the folks at Manav Foundation, it was great to see that people were finally acknowledging an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long and are taking time and effort to try and spread awareness.
To sum up; the whole interaction with Manav Foundation left me dripping in feelings and gave me a wider smile. The lovely clients of the foundation didn’t let us leave empty handed as well; and signed for us and all of you this lovely note (image below.) I don’t know what that was, but it was somewhat like that feeling of contentment which generally lasts for about 30 minutes after I eat my favourite meal, just this time, it lasted for almost two days! 🙂