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There are a few kinds of message in a bottle stories I am a sucker for. Near the top of the list are those involving kiddos, and those highlighting the plastic pollution plague in our ocean. This story does both!

Rachel and Olivia, 12 and 9 respectively, each sent a message in a bottle while on a family outing in Brittas Bay, Ireland, near Arklow, according to BBC Wales.

Irish Sisters photo from Shemazing.net

Rachel, left, and Olivia, right. Photo: Mythen Family / Shemazing.net

Rachel and Olivia never thought they would hear of or see their messages in bottles again.

But the bottles were destined for an epic journey across the Irish Sea.

200 miles after launch, Olivia’s message in a bottle was found by Sara McAleese on an Aberystwyth beach in Wales on the UK’s west coast.

Irish Sisters Message in a Bottle 2 from Mother.jpg

Photo: Sara McAleese

Sara McAleese is now on my list of Sheroes for several reasons. First of all, she posted her find to social media and found Olivia and her family in just minutes–excellent detective work! Then, according to Wicklownews.net, Sara wrote back to Olivia, sending her intrepid message back to her, along with some memorabilia from Aberystwyth. To cap it all off, she recycled the plastic bottle in which she found the message. Awesome!

Aberystwyth_shore - Gjt6.jpg

Aberystwyth. Photo: Wikipedia user Gjt6.

That all seems simple enough, but consider this: Sara was walking the beach to pick up litter as part of the wonderful #2MinuteBeachClean campaign (I’m a big fan!). Some people in her shoes would have berated the young girls for “littering”. Believe me–I have seen people go after children on this point, and other adults, getting downright nasty about it. But instead, Sara treated the young ladies like friends, and it sounds to me like they might have actually struck up a friendship. And because of that goodwill Sara showed towards the girls, perhaps Olivia and Rachel learned something about the status of our oceans, rather than being scared off by an angry litter-picker. A little kindness goes a long way in this old world.

So once again, here it is: The power of messages in bottles to both connect people and spark real friendships, at the same time that they help raise awareness about pollution in the ocean.

One more thing: The route Olivia’s bottle took? Well, Sara’s wife knows it well. Following the route of Olivia’s message in a bottle, she crosses the Irish Sea each year from Arklow to Aberystwyth as a participant in the Celtic Challenge.

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Beginning of the Celtic Challenge. Photo: Celtic-Challenge.org.uk

But there’s a postscript to the story: Rachel’s message in a bottle was found just days later in Holyhead! That’s according to the Irish Mirror who noted that the girls’ mother was also contacted about this discovery through social media.

Irish Sisters Message in a Bottle.jpg

Rachel’s message in a bottle as it was found in Holyhead. Photo: Irish Mirror.

Oceanographers like Curt Ebbesmeyer estimate that of all messages in bottles sent, no more than 10% are ever found. Personally, I think it’s probably an even lower percentage.

The fact that both Rachel’s and Olivia’s messages in bottles were found (and just days apart, no less) is a marvel. And that two kind people were the finders–what good luck!

I’m carrying this story with me today as I stumble through the world–all of it. Rachel’s and Olivia’s outgoing hearts, Sara’s kindness, her husband’s adventurousness.

Some days I don’t know what to think about the world or my place in it. But when I see stories like this, I am certain we need more of a few things: kindness, open-mindedness, and adventurousness of spirit.

Kudos, Olivia, Rachel, and Sara! Thank you for the important reminder 🙂

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