Hashtag funds planeload of supplies to Somalia

Media credit: JARRE, JÉRÔME. “Turkish Airlines ayudemos a Somalia.” YouTube.

It’s no secret that there are people facing starvation today, many of whom are in Africa. For the majority of us, we were once deeply concerned about their well-being and strongly desired to contribute to help relieve their plight when we first came to know of their situation. But over time, reality hit, making us realise that this situation is not an isolated case, but a symptom of something more severe and extensive. Eventually, we lose hope and accept the fact that the small donations from our pocket money or support given to the relevant NGOs are just water droplets attempting to fill a infinite bucket. So we stop contributing; we become numb to the news of more people dying and simply take it as a sad but inevitable situation.

This is exactly how I was over the years. While I felt a burden for the people suffering, I still sat in the comfort of my home, dead set that I could do nothing significant to help these people. And yet, over a week ago, I came across this video featuring a social media influencer advocating the cause to bring food aid to Somalia. My inner cynic automatically questioned the effectiveness of yet another appeal. Given the complexity of the situation it was easy to doubt that help would materialise. And yet, this movement led to a cargo plane filled with 60 tonnes of food (60,000 kg) set for the emergency zone, all ready to fly. Just what the heck happened here?

The whole movement started with a phone call to Vine star, Jérôme Jarre, from a volunteer in Somalia, having witnessed a death of a 6-year-old girl as a result of dehydration. Jarre then posted a short video on his social media account on 15th March, bringing attention to the severe drought in Somalia that is causing widespread famine, with more than 20 million people on the brink of starvation in East Africa, according to the UN. He then targeted the video to Turkish Airlines to kindly load up a cargo plane and fly it to Somalia, having noted that it is the only commercial airline that flies to Somalia.

Using the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia he rallied his followers to capture the attention of Turkish Airlines. This resulted in a phone call a few days later confirming Turkish Airlines’ willingness to help, kickstarting a “GoFundMe” page, “Love Army For Somalia”, with support from American celebrity, Ben Stiller. The campaign attracted not only more viewers but also other celebrities such as DJ Calvin Harris who donated a generous $25,000. Many others joined the movement and an increasing number got involved in the trending #NominatedForSomalia challenge — each donor tagging 3 other friends to donate to the cause as well. As of 24 March 2017, there has been a total of $2,311,747 of the $2.0M goal raised by 81,859 people in 6 days.

Jarre acknowledges that this mission will be nothing more than a tiny impact on those starving in Somalia. Despite that, the actions taken are clearly intended to make it a sustainable project. Many considerations were taken, including the type of food to be provided, eventually deciding on Plumpy’nut, a product specially developed for the recovery of malnourished children. Besides that, they took into consideration the negative economic impact flying in food supplies is likely to have on the local market place and businesses. As a result, they will be getting the local NGOs in Somalia to buy food directly there. They have also allocated half of the fund to water, putting in place the short-term solution of buying water trucks on the ground, while they continue to work on long-term sustainable water solutions.

Truly, what makes this movement stand out is how the will and drive of a single person like Jérôme Jarre can turn a wild idea into an actionable plan that does help a whole community of people in dire need. This movement has reminded me that our world is constantly changing, as is our society. Our actions can indeed impact and contribute to others if only we set our minds and put our hearts to it. We have clearly seen that our society is one bursting with the desire to push a cause. Now, with social media available, all we need is that one person courageous and passionate enough to push it forward. Will you be one of them?

Contribute here GOFUNDME: https://www.gofundme.com/LOVEARMYFORSOMALIA

Understand better (Casey Neistat’s Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93dDP-O4VsI



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