Free Hugs Notebook
Back in 1989 REMO celebrated a man who had spent 37 years of his life repeatedly (and secretly) writing a single word in chalk onto the streets of Sydney.
That man was Arthur Stace, and the word was Eternity.
It is, therefore, very fitting that almost 20 years later we would celebrate a man who also, with a single repeated gesture, madeæa difference; touching and inspiring people ... and this time all over the world.
That man is Juan Mann, and that gesture was/isæthe FREE HUG.
Every Thursday from around noon, Juan would standæin a busy plaza in the City of Sydney holding a cardboard sign that boreæthe hand blocked words "FREE HUGS" on both sides ... dishing out same to the bewildered, amused, comforted and delighted.
There's a chance that you already know this story. The original YouTube video (above) has been viewed millions of times. Juan's gesture is celebrated and mimicked all over the world. He's been on Oprah. FREE HUGS has become a global phenomenon.
So, how did it all start?
Here's how Juan explains the genesis of his calling:
"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 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."
REMO is happy and proud to be associated with FREE HUGS. In collaboration with Juan we developed a range of REMO merchandise bearing a faithful reproduction of the FREE HUGS sign.
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