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    Everything Is Born From Hope

    By Jeff Cotter

    What does the holiday season mean to you? For me, it is about spending time with friends, reflecting on the past year’s achievements and shortcomings, but most of all it is about hope.

    In my personal life and as the Executive Director of Rainbow World Fund, I have come to respect the power of hope. Hope is a deep emotion – that what we want, what we dream, can be had. It is what gets us out of bed every morning. It is what keeps us going. No matter where one lives, or what language one speaks, or belief system one has – we all have hope. I believe it is the most powerful energy in the world, the glue that holds things together. All mankind shares this and it is magical.

    Through Rainbow World Fund’s humanitarian work internationally on behalf of the LGBT community, I have been witness to the power of hope in people’s lives. I have seen people living in the most desperate circumstances with very few resources making positive changes – with just a little support – improving their children’s lives and their communities’ lives. Rainbow World Fund’s support gives hope by letting people know that someone cares. That alone is very powerful. When we visit projects and communities it can give people a sense of dignity and value – a feeling that they matter and are not alone. I have come to learn that, besides providing humanitarian aid, it is equally important if not more so to foster a spirit of hope in people’s lives.

    Eight years ago, I realized that it was just as important to foster the energy of hope at home in the US. I was not sure how to do that, but I have always liked art and I realized that it was a great way to reach people. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to the story of Sadako Sasaki, the little girl whose journey and death several years after the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima led to the crane becoming a symbol of world peace.

    Sadako was two when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was home, about one mile from ground zero. Several years later, she developed the disease of the bomb, leukemia. While in the hospital, a friend brought her an origami crane and taught Sadako the Japanese legend that the folder of 1000 cranes is granted a wish. Sadako started folding, but grew weaker with time and passed away 356 cranes short of her goal. Her classmates folded the rest. All 1000 were buried with Sadako. On the wings of the cranes, Sadako would write messages. One deeply profound message read, “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” Her hope, strength and determination have inspired millions.

    I was touched that this little girl’s wish transformed from self-healing to healing for the whole world. Fifty-one years after her death, the first World Tree of Hope was created. We create the tree each year as a symbol of global unity to promote peace, love and humanitarianism. We give the tree as a gift from the LGBT community to the world.

    Our hope at Rainbow World Fund is that the tree will inspire people to think more deeply about their role in bringing about positive change in the world and will challenge people to get further involved and turn their intentions into actions to help heal the world.

    My wish for 2014 is that we will all start to live more fully in the knowledge that we are really One Human Family. That is the philosophy that informs everything we do at Rainbow World Fund.

    What is your wish?

    Jeff Cotter is the Executive Director of Rainbow World Fund.