“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.” – Herman Melville, American writer
The attitude to help others is innate in our lives even if we sometimes do not prioritize it. The sympathetic actions we take have to be meaningful and powerful to make changes happen and visible. Most of the times when a bigger threat like natural calamity happens we find the spirit and engage in collective actions to help the helpless. But should we have to wait for such a blow before we convert the spirit into action in our daily lives?
Think about any problem in your society. How much effort does it take to solve it? What are the resource requirements and how do we obtain them?
Only some years ago we needed to wait for a mainstream media to advocate for social initiatives to help others. Now social media is empowering ordinary people to do that for themselves.
When you look at each of the Rising Voices projects, you will agree that it is an interesting experience to watch a new blogger start out, develop a voice, and emerge as a force. It is like tentatively getting out of a cocoon of blocked thoughts, unblocking their self-consciousness, overcoming frustrations and limitations, and then blasting like a rocket with individual charisma and aura. And they are setting examples of engaging themselves in social causes.
Diana Chamia is a 18 year old blogger from the School of Journalism in Mahajanga, Madagascar who received citizen media training from FOKO Blog Club. She has proved to be more than just a skilled writer, she has done something remarkable.
She spotted a child named Kamba with an abnormal growth in the forehead and decided to help Kamba's family to provide better medical care for him. She appealed to the blogosphere in her blog post “help Me help them“:
The FOKO blogging community responded to her post and pledged a global call for solidarity to help the child and the family.
Th initial financial support to take the child to capital Antananarivo for a better diagnostic required $500 and FOKO Madagascar was in charge of the fundraising on the Internet. In a very short time, a wonderful Malagasy family living in Canada contacted Diana and took care of everything.
FOKO then spontaneously took the role of coordinator between the parties involved (surgeons, donors, worried mothers wanting to give clothing and food) and started publishing daily updates on the developments. Diana assisted the family on their trip to the capital for the operation and even offered to stay with the child during the month long hospitalization.
This is a wonderful example of the power of one making a change in the society.
Similarly we see such actions in another project Hiper-Barrio where:
“In San Javier La Loma, a hillside working class community on the outskirts of Medellín, one of the most well-known local celebrities, ‘Filthy Suso’, had, until recently, also been one of the most enigmatic. Thanks to the work of HiperBarrio, a citizen journalism outreach project of Rising Voices, the story of ‘Filthy Suso’ is now known both locally and internationally. Led by Yuliana Isabel Paniagua Cano, Catalina Restrepo Martínez, and Gabriel Jaime Venegas, the collective of new citizen journalists created both a video and article about ‘Filthy Suso’, La Loma’s local collector of recyclables. It is worth noting that HiperBarrio’s article on Suso was also published on the front page of the weekly local newspaper, Conexion.”
Both the examples show the empowerment of a new level of social consciousness and imagination among the youth by the citizen media. It is being achieved through sharing of conversation and expression of strong will to make a change which is devoid of self-preoccupation and self-interest.