East Camberwell, Australia
While many people are putting fingers to the keyboard and communicating in record speeds with friends across the globe via Internet, you might think the art of letter writing was dead. But you´d be wrong. Just ask any of the thousands of people worldwide who join International Penfriends (IPF) each year.
IPF was founded on 7. April 1967 by Neil O`Donnell from Dublin, Ireland. Neil´s vision was to give people in all age groups, from every country, the opportunity to make friends and promote world peace trough sincere correspondence. Thirty-five years later that vision is still IPF´s major goal and its strength has resulted in IPF providing more than 1,5 million people agend from 8-80+ with penfriends.
Today IPF is located a long way from its birthplace. On 1 February 2001 IPF moved to Australia when Neil O´Donnell retired and Julie Delbridge from Australia became IPF´s new President. Julie´s passion for the penfriend hobby is strong, having first joined IPF als a 19 years old girl in 1979 and being appointed the Australian Coordinator for the club in 1982.
"I´m still writing to three penfriends from the very first list of penfriends I received from IPF", said Julie. "Hanni from Switzerland was on that list. Together with the hundreds of letters we have exchanged over the years, Hanni and I have travelled in Australia from Kangaroo Island to the Outback during her five visits. I´ve also explored many mountains and chocolate delights of Switzerland with Hanni during my four visits."
"The penfriend hobby has countless dimensions. I´m sure I wouldn´t have discovered as much of the world if not for the friends I´ve gained through IPF. It is an educational adventure of friendship and fun. Even though it´s very special to meet penfiends, the intrigue of writing to friends that you may never meet is equally rewarding."
IPF encourages members to use both e-mail and traditional letter writing. However, Julie highlighted that despite the many forms of communication available today, the most common feedback IPF received from members was how much they enjoyed receiving letters in the mail.
"It is hard to match the anticipation of waiting for letters to arrive, the stamps, postmarks, fancy writing paper, postcards, photos, tokens of friendship, the time and care people have taken to write the letters, sitting quietly and reading the letters time and time again, and possibly keeping them for many years as part of personal history. It is also great to receive something in the mail other than bills and jung mail", said Julie.