Helping Haiti (with social media) PDF Print E-mail
Radio host Carel Pedre tweets from the crumbled streets of Haiti. He has not been flown in to cover the news. Rather, he is an ordinary citizen, who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is trying to help.

Picture taken by Carel Pedre and tweeted“Please send Some Water to the God's Littlest Angels Orphanage here is their location“ he tweets, shortly followed by “It's sad! It's Been 4 days now and we're begging for some water on twitter!”

Most of his tweets are cries for help, along the lines of, “Sylanise Michel-Mathurin Needs Help! she has been badly injured. she's @ Rue Caravelle 56 Bis. Call on 509.3.837.7407, or 509.3.4287290”

He has over 6 300 followers, many of whom retweet what he has said, in hope that aid workers in Haiti may pick up his messages.

It's the power of the Internet, it's the power of social networking, and it's doing unbelievable things.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become lifelines for those in Haiti, allowing loved ones to find their families and on-the-ground reports to reach aid workers.

Maimi Herald writer, Niala Boodhoo, who once lived in Haiti, describes her experience after phoning her father and finding that he knew nothing, “My next step was to check Facebook, where I saw friends in Haiti posting status messages. Inside my Facebook inbox, the alumni director for my old school, Quisqueya Christian, had sent our alumni/students/faculty group the first of what became a series of heart-wrenching messages that were, for the first 48 hours, my best source of information.”

She knows of people who were rescued because of Facebook status updates pleading for help.

The social networking sites are also great methods of donating towards the relief effort. Facebook applications, such as Farmville, are offering users the chance to donate. Twitter publicises the addresses of places where people can donate, and other sites, such as blogging site Livejournal, have virtual gifts on offer for users who donate to help Haiti. According to CNN, the largest collection of donations has been a charity text message campaign that has already raised more than $10 million.

While the amount raised from social media can not compare with the amount donated by governments and big companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google, social networking has made it easier for the average man-on-the-street to help and has mobilised the entire planet in a way that we have never seen before.
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