An Open Letter To Anthony Lake

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Anthony Lake
Anthony Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthony Lake is a man I admire and respect greatly. We all should. He has earned it, and continues to demonstrate exceptional leadership and influence in his public role as Executive Director of UNICEF, as a further contribution he has made to a wide range of peace building initiatives since the early 1960s.

In September last year in New York during the ‘Social Good Summit’, Anthony Lake rightly described child mortality as both a moral obscenity and moral abomination. These are strong words, but justified. Today alone, 17,000 children will die across the world, mostly from one of five easily preventable causes. More must be done.

What follows is an open letter to Anthony Lake. I post it here only because I need him to act on it in the next 24 hours. Six degrees of separation holds us apart. Together, can we bridge this gap and get this letter in front of people who have the capacity and the will to influence this outcome in the interests of us all? I have no guarantee that he will read it, or act on it. Others can help. If it is within your capacity to influence the outcome I seek, would you please take action to help? This letter, while addressed to Anthony Lake is an open letter to us all.

You can help by sharing this post. Few of us can send it directly to Anthony Lake, but if we can activate the network, then we might have a chance. Help us to show that networks are our possibility factories. Help us to show that the seemingly impossible is possible, if we put our minds and hearts behind the cause.

Please forward this open letter in any way you can: share this post on Facebook, RT on Twitter, send through email, deliver in person, blog on social media. A hard copy of this letter has been printed out in New York by friends who will do their best to try to deliver it in person as well. Please help this letter get to the right person who can help make a difference. We have a short time, but an incredibly connected network capable of more than we might appreciate.

This is perhaps the first step we are taking together in opening this conversation asking: “how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality?

Thank you for starting this journey with me.
Let’s recall that African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, travel alone; If you want to travel far, then let’s go together.”


Dr Anthony Lake
Executive Director
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017
United States

Dear Tony,

I am very excited to have been recently selected to attend the ‘Commonwealth Study Conference‘ which commences in London this weekend.

This forum provides extraordinary access, engagement and development potential. It includes a reception at Downing Street, and dinner with HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne). The focus is on fellow participants, described as being 100 of the brightest, best and most senior leaders drawn from governments, businesses and NGOs across the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. The real benefit for myself in attending the Commonwealth Study Conference is in the creation of an enabling environment for the 10 City Bridge Run such that it has the capacity for real impact in helping to reduce child mortality.

The 10 City Bridge Run is an initiative I created in 2010 that will involve me running 10 sub-marathons, each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. The running is a stunt is to open a conversation asking: “how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality?” I have uploaded a short video describing the 10 City Bridge Run at

I agree with your assertion that child mortality is indeed a moral abomination of our time. We must embrace new and innovative approaches. When combatting moral abomination, can we really afford to allow small efforts to fail when the cost is relatively negligible? We must be relentless in this fight:

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, and for want of a horse the man was lost.”

The 10 City Bridge Run is grounded in an idea that it is through the triumph of imagination that we are able to achieve new possibilities. Bill Shore in his 2010 book: “The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men” describes a “narrow but vitally important space between the impractical and the impossible” which he calls the “imagination gap”. He writes:

“The imagination gap is a place where hope lies waiting to be discovered, and cannot be extinguished once it has. Most failures in life are not failures of resources, or organisation, or strategy or discipline. They are failures of imagination.”

The 10 City Bridge Run draws inspiration from a quote by Ophelia Dahl (cofounder of Partners in Health and daughter of renowned children’s book author Roald Dahl) taken from a graduation speech when she quoted Adam Hochschild who earlier wrote about the importance of “drawing connections between the near and the distant”:

“Linking our own lives and fates with those we can’t see will, I believe, be the key to a decent and shared future… Imagination will allow you to make the link between the near of your lives and the distant others and will lead us to realise the plethora of connections between us and the rest of the world…and this will surely lead to ways in which you can influence others and perhaps improve the world along the way.”

I have yet to commence the 10 City Bridge Run journey because of issues related mostly to funding and injury, but remain undeterred as I recognise the importance of this initiative. The Commonwealth Study Conference opens an ideal window to finally begin this journey. My intention is to commence running in London at the end of March, and finish in New York coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September, with the journey being divided into three separate legs.

I have been accepted to the Commonwealth Study Conference on a part-bursary basis which means that I am responsible for contributing £1,000 to the programme, along with paying for international airfares (UK in March, India in June). All other costs (food, transport and accommodation) are met by the programme organiser, along with the remainder of the cost of the forum itself (£10,000)

To date, I have raised money to undertake the 10 City Bridge Run through the pre-sale of a book containing 100 photographs of ‘human bridges’ called Life Bridge. This crowdfunded approach has sought to encourage a broad base of participation with books being sold for $24 (soft-cover) or $240 (hard-cover). While I have raise sufficient money to start the journey, I have yet to secure enough funding to see the journey through to its completion, and am asking for your help.

I have a deadline by Thursday to raise a small amount of money to enable me to commence this journey, enhanced through attendance at the Commonwealth Study Conference to amplify the conversation.

I now face an immediate challenge where I have an unique opportunity, but lack the necessary funding to act. Given the urgency child mortality presents as a moral abomination, to delay the 10 City Bridge Run would be a lost opportunity to increase our collective capacity for action, influence and impact through a conversation asking how can we use our networks to reduce child mortality.

I am asking for your help both in your capacity to influence in your current position at UNICEF, and perhaps more importantly in your ability to respond as a fellow human being who cares about the lives of millions of children which hang in the balance. I need to raise $5,000 in the next 48 hours in order to undertake this journey.  Can you help? Please help me to help you to help others.

I invite you to join this journey through your support of the 10 City Bridge Run. Would you please visit where you could pre-purchase a copy of the book Life Bridge for either $24 or $240 that will enable this journey? Alternatively, because of the time constraint, a deposit could be made directly to my account with a follow up email to ensure transparency for funds received (Matthew Jones, BSB 062220 , Account Number 10127834).

This is an enormous task, and I cannot do it alone. Please help to make this journey possible so that we might together work to reduce child mortality through the use of our networks. Thank you for your consideration and your support.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones

Sydney, Australia
12 March 2013


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