How lifespark started


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How lifespark started

Speaking in 2010, founding member Ursula Corbin tells how lifespark started:

After spending many years living in countries where human rights were violated daily, I joined a group of Amnesty International in 1986 – right after returning to live in Switzerland. I wanted to do something – to be an active member and it just was not enough for me just to give donations.

After a year or so, my group got a letter from an inmate on Death Row in Texas – he wanted to get in contact with us and have somebody to correspond with. Since I was the only one at the time who knew English well enough to write, I was the one to write him back.

A very deep and lasting friendship resulted from this and I wrote him very often and visited him every year. Unfortunately this allended abruptly when he was executed in 1993! What a devastating experience! I did not want to write to any inmate on Death Row anymore…

But then I gave an interview to a Texas Radio Station about this penpalship and about my ideas on the death penalty. Soon after that I was swamped with letters from inmates – they had gotten my address from that radio station! There was no way I could start writing to each of them and I was thinking of ways of how I could possibly handle this.

I met two ladies who also had started a pen pal-ship with an inmate on Death Row and the three of us came up with the idea of starting a little organization to connect inmates with people from the ‘outside’. That was how the idea of lifespark was born! We found some other interested people and founded that organization at the end of 1993.

After about a year we already had 30 members! We wrote some articles in women’s magazines, but mostly it was through word-of-mouth that we got new members. Today (in 2010), 17 years later, lifespark has about 300 members and more than 1000 inmates have been connected with someone willing to write.

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