Using ‘Social Media For Good’; Building a School For Burmese Kids
If you guys have been following me, you know we’ve been running our non-profit, Mudita Adventures, for the last 4 years. We’ve donated almost $200,000USD and helped build clinics, dormitories, kindergartens, libraries, water-wells and playgrounds across Thailand, Cambodia, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Jordan, Ethiopia amongst others. We use adventure travel to fund these projects, giving people an awesome opportunity to see the real country they visit and leaving a lasting positive impact on the communities in which we travel. But it’s always a struggle to raise the funds, and it’s only getting harder.
And social media seems to be causing more harm than good. Instagram, YouTube, Facebook is everywhere we look. But at what cost to mental health? People are comparing themselves to unrealistic projections of fake lives. Filters, rented brand name clothes, cosmetic surgery and unrealistic ‘body goals’. We’ve never been more aware of how privileged we are, and we have this amazing tool to reach so many people, in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. We have the power to make such a positive difference. But we don’t. So let’s change that. Let’s use ‘Social Media For Good’. At least just once. And who knows, maybe we can start a movement. #socialmediaforgood. Let’s at least try.
HOW DOES ‘SOCIAL MEDIA FOR GOOD WORK’?
At Mudita Adventures, we’ve been working with the Burmese refugee community on the Thailand/Myanmar border for the last few years. In partnership with the Karen leadership, we’ve funded and helped construct a playground, a dormitory, a malaria clinic, 2 new classrooms and a playground over the last 3 years. Recently our project coordinator, a former refugee himself, told of us a particular community who were struggling. A group of Burmese families had no access to education for their kids. They needed a new school, but being stateless, there was no funding available. Could we help? The budget? Roughly $50,000USD (about 1.5m Thai Baht). Yes we can help. We HAVE TO help.
And so ‘Social Media For Good’ was born. $50k is A LOT of money to raise. So the best way is to break it into 10 chunks of $5k each. Social media is never out of the media, how much damage it’s doing, so as someone who has been fortunate enough to benefit from social media, from blogging, from the internet, I thought let’s show the world that social media can be a force for good. Let’s find 10 influencers who are willing to help us. It will work like this:
We upload a video on my instagram.com/onestep4ward and my facebook.com/onestep4ward, showing the community and the school. You guys watch the video, and you tag your favourite influencers, influencers who you think give a sh*t about the world, influencers who will be willing to come with us to the community and help finish the construction, and who will use their channels to help crowdfund $5k each. When we have 10 influencers willing to do that, we will open the crowdfunding. Suddenly, $50k is raised through the power of social media. Construction will start this summer, and all 10 influencers, along with myself and our Mudita Adventures team, will go to witness the final stages of construction and show you guys, through their channels and ours, just how much power social media has for good. Beautiful. So let’s do it!
Please note, we don’t make a penny from this, and nor will the influencers. We are a non-profit, and we don’t pay influencers to be involved. We know there are good people out there, waiting for an opportunity to do something meaningful, and we hope they see this as their chance to make a difference.
WHO IS THIS PARTNER COMMUNITY?
I’ve lived in Thailand for over 10 years, and we’re well aware of the plight of some Ethnic-minority Burmese tribes, who have been persecuted in Myanmar (formerly Burma) for centuries. Since the military took control of the nation, the problem escalated exponentially to the extent that the UN has declared the existence of war crimes throughout Eastern Myanmar. Both the Karen people and the Shan state have seen particular violence, with entire villages ravaged and razed to the ground. Rapes, murders, unlawful imprisonment. Naturally, many of these tribes fled their country to neighbouring Thailand where they continued to struggle due to their ‘stateless’ existence, but still, their situation was a vast improvement from outright persecution/genocide.
Since Myanmar underwent its first ‘democratic’ elections in 2011/2012, the ethnic tribes on the Thai side of the border have felt the repercussions dramatically. The vast majority of charities, projects, and NGOs that had kindly swarmed to their help on the Thai side of the border instantly entered Myanmar, leaving the Burmese migrants in Mae Sot and its surroundings instantly neglected. This has left many communities, schools and families searching for the wherewithal they need to provide equipment for themselves, their people, and their students.
It was for this reason that, being based in Thailand for years personally, we wanted to help. So we spent a year building a rapport with the community outside Mae La refugee camp, and ultimately that relationship has given us the privilege of being able to lend a helping hand. They have been left with no funding, no educational system, and no chance to break the cycle of poverty. Let’s give the kids a chance to break it for themselves. And that starts with their new school.
As you can see, the current school has no ‘classrooms’, no walls to protect them from the rainy season, not even desks, tables chairs, no uniforms, no school bags for the kids. The noice (whilst very cute!) with 4 classrooms under one roof isn’t conducive to a learning environment. With your help, we’re going to put that right, and build them a purpose-built school. Help us help them, please. Tag your influencers in the videos, and message them to tell them to get on board. We can’t do it without their help, or your help.
MUDITA ADVENTURES? WHO ARE WE?
Mudita Adventures is a social enterprise that marries the concepts of sustainable development and adventure travel. Since 2015, we’ve aimed to ‘Change The Way You Travel. For Good’ by creating genuine, grass-roots social development projects in local communities where, after helping launch the projects, our donors embark on some of the most unique itineraries around the world, from Pakistan, to Sri Lanka.
On every trip, the process begins up to 1 year in advance, liaising with NGOs on the ground, local stakeholders identifying the projects they need, hiring the staff required from the community. Engineers & labourers in place then construct the vast majority of work where finally we have our donors visit the site for 2-3 days to complete the final touches and attend the opening ceremony. After that, the whole team is out for the adventure.
We truly hope and believe a model of travel that leaves a positive impact will positively shape the new era of sustainable tourism and create an amiable perspective of the locals towards the travelers/tourists and vice versa
YOUR CALL TO ACTION!