"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
- Nelson Mandela . It was an honor and a privilege to hear Leslee Udwin speak at the Asian Festival of Children's Content in Singapore earlier this year. I cannot remember a time when I was so deeply moved in so little time. Shortly after Leslee started her talk, the tears were rolling down my face and when she was done, it was as if my body acted on its own when it got up and gave her an embrace of love and admiration. In under forty-five minutes, she won my heart and my respect, and left me wanting to do anything in my power to help her with her mission. She is one of the most inspiring, strong, and beautiful souls I have ever met, and I thank the stars for leading me to her.
Leslee Udwin is the filmmaker who created the documentary "India's Daughter" based on the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in 2012. After thirty-one hours of interviews with rapists, Leslee concluded that monstrous acts such as these are not the disease, but rather the symptoms of an education that instills a mindset that girls are simply less worthy than boys, or perhaps, one that doesn't do anything to correct the wrong we live with daily. As long as we keep educating the mind and not the heart, she argues, this violence and hatred will continue to occur.
That is why Leslee created Think Equal, an educational program which she provides to schools for free, that is designed to teach children between 3 and 5 years of age love, empathy, respect. If this is not done when the moral framework is still developing, our kids become programmed to see the world in this distorted way forevermore.
Because of the importance and magnitude of this initiative, words cannot possibly express how proud we are that Aiden Finds a Way has been accepted into the Think Equal program and is currently being translated to be used in every public school in Sri Lanka. What this means is that our little Aiden is going to help children in Sri Lanka and soon, all over the world, learn about the importance of friendship, empathy and self awareness. Our sensitive little boy will show kids that it's okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes, and that many of us often need to take some time alone before we are ready to move forward.
We couldn't be prouder!
Writers and illustrators, teachers, educators, I urge you to reach out to Leslee and let her know what you can do to help her change the world. There has never been a more urgent time to raise a generation of children who love and respect each other, and see each other as equals regardless of their gender or the color of their skin. We all have a part to play to ensure this happens. . Our children are counting us to make difference. Let us never forget that.