The (underestimated) Power of Social Media

By: Francesca S.

Today, twenty million people are currently living in African countries where a famine has been declared. Many people in Yemen, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, and South Sudan are months away from dying from starvation – mainly caused by regional droughts and political turmoil which makes any type of aid hard to be provided. This humanitarian crisis is not talked about enough, especially when half of Somalia’s population is at risk of death due to the lack of food and basic support, the World Health Organization warns that the lack of food causes many children to be very sensitive in developing diseases, and that right now there are “more than 360,000 acutely malnourished children currently who need urgent and life-saving support.” Massive efforts are being encouraged from various global NGOs, all focusing their energies in the current famines, hoping that the suffering it creates will not escalate to the same level as the Ethiopian famine of 1985.

Anyway, this situation caught the attention of Vine and Snapchat star, Jerome Jarre, who promptly posted a video on Twitter on March 15th that shines light on the worrying famine. In the same video, Jarre then proposes to send a Turkish Airline plane to Somalia (being the only company that flies there) filled with food and water so to give it to the local NGOs and help the millions of people who are on the brink of starvation. Soon after this video, the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia, gained popularity, with other influencers like Ben Stiller and Colin Kaepernick making a video to urge Turkish Airlines to help. Twitter saw the hashtag trend, and just a few hours later Turkish Airlines responded, giving their availability to fill a full cargo flight with room for 60 tons of food. Not only that, until the Somalia famine will end, they will allow for more food to be shipped on their commercial flights. A GoFundMe page “Love Army For Somalia” was soon opened and reached its one million dollars goal in just 19 hours. The donations now add up to be over 2 million dollars, and will be spent on food and long-term solutions for water security.

Jarre is keeping fans and donators updated through his social media accounts. Firstly, the food sent will be PlumpyNut, that is therapeutic food that is best for undernourished children. Also, some short-term water solutions include buying water trucks directly in Somalia that provide water that supports 100 families a day, for only $250. This is done so to support the local businesses, and encourage the local economy to grow.

On March 28th, ninety thousand liters began being distributed in Somalia. Just a few days later, Jarre posts another video from Istanbul showing the cargo airplane, ready to be filled with baby food and personalized with the #LoveArmyforSomalia stickers.

On April 4th, Jarre shows his followers on Twitter the 60 tons of foods that are now available to the Somalian communities. Finally, after a long period of planning, gathering funds and excitement,  first-hand aid will now relieve many out of a declared emergency situation.

While social media is often criticized, this story is one admirable example of social media’s power to help millions around the globe. A post for social awareness, turned into an idea, which gained popularity and soon became action. This is proving that many want to unite for one fair cause, and that this mission can really help relieve those in need.

If you also want to help, or stay updated on this fantastic idea, check out:

https://www.gofundme.com/LOVEARMYFORSOMALIA and https://twitter.com/jeromejarre

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