Free Hugs – Spread the Movement by Juan Mann

A hug is like a magic blanket. No matter how dim my day is, a little hug from Elkan brings great joy and comfort. No needs for words, a simple hug heals my day. It is magical and I call them “happy power”.

“Free hugs Campaign” is a real life controversial story of Juan MannA man from Sydney whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives. This campaign was banned in 2005 by the official in Sydney but Juan’s movement inspired a worldwide phenomenon. The ban was lifted after a petition of 10,000 signatures the following year.

We were shopping in Times Square today and what we witnessed this afternoon can only be described as awe inspiring. Hugs can be very infectious. It removes the “zombie” in us and brings the jolly old spirit back. A group of strangers, with smiles on their face, carrying flash cards and offering hugs for everyone. Silently and magically, they changed the atmosphere. Gone were the monotonous zombie-like shoppers. Perfect strangers from different walks of life came together and hugged. This simple unison between strangers brought out the most sparkling smiles from within. For a rare moment, we witnessed a priceless portrait of joy and the true spirit of humanity.

Free Hugs Campaign – How it started on 30th June 2004

By Juan Mann (Abstract from his website): I’d been living in London when my world turned upside down and I’d had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city (Pitt Street Mall) and held that sign aloft, with the words “Free Hugs” on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven’t compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.

One Response to Free Hugs – Spread the Movement by Juan Mann

  1. Harshad says:

    Today is international free hugs day. Check out Coke should support this movement.

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