Saturday, January 16, 2010

Broadcasting the SOS call of the #BRESMA Orphans of #Haiti

The devastation is unimaginable, the need is overwhelming, and the feelings of helplessness are almost suffocating. It's hard to know what to do, whom to donate to, whom to trust will do the right things, get to the right people. In the wake of such a crisis, scams abound, preying upon the desperate need to do something to help. I have to say in the hours and days following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti I've been a bit numb to it. On purpose. It was just too much to take in.

That was before I learned about #BRESMA.

For those not familiar with Twitter-speak, the hash tag is a way of linking and following a common thread on Twitter. As I reviewed my daily Twitter feed, amidst the #Haiti tweets that were rolling in, the tweets about an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince that is spearheaded by two young sisters from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania started to catch my attention. By Saturday, when the distressing tweets started to appear that this orphanage, currently caring for 150 children and babies was nearly out of water, I knew I couldn't turn away.

I started retweeting the distress call put out by @JanePitt, a columnist from Pittsburgh who is working with the women's family to coordinate information and get their story out via her blog. As I started to learn the background of these amazing, and humble, young women who have found their life's calling in helping these children, I became convinced that amidst all the chaos and bewildering need, focusing on getting attention and immediate help to these individuals that make such an impact was a way that I could contribute something more beyond my dollars. These women literally climb mountains, and have traveled in treacherous hurricane conditions to reach children in need. And they have a astounding 100% placement rate, and the fastest in the Haitian adoption community due to their dogged determination. These kids all have families waiting for them! I felt something needed to be done, and NOW.

I am not alone. This is where Twitter gets amazing.

My fellow tweeters have also been furiously broadcasting this singular SOS. News people, politicians, even no joke, an aircraft carrier sitting off the coast were targeted to try and get their attention, to find someone who knew someone on the ground to get water to them. Celebrities with large followings were appealed to, and it was wonderful to see @JillianMichaels and @Alyssa_Milano take notice and retweet to their followers, eliciting an immediate bump in the volume. CNN had even been there previously, and was running a segment about them. GPS coordinates were posted to aid anyone who could get someone there.

Information and pleas were flying. This is where Twitter gets dicey.

As I said, CNN had been there in the last several days, and they started to report the news that the women had secured permission to get the children out! But unfortunately that information was inaccurate, taken from an AP report sourced from an incorrect local Pittsburgh media report. So the tweets started rolling out to not lose focus, these women and their charges ARE not out of the woods by a long shot.

But a bright spot. This is where Twitter gets inspiring.

From @collazoprojects, a managing editor for a travel publication based out of Mexico City, I learned that he and a connection had networked to get a person on the ground to the orphanage, and had spoken with him this evening. He reported that while their need is severe (especially for baby items) that they are staying strong and holding on.

Tonight I'll pray. Tomorrow, I'll check my Twitter feed, and see if beyond resources there is anything else I can do to help people a world away, caught in hell, who thanks to social media now have names and faces.

I pray that it will be enough for the McMutrie sisters and their young charges.

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Pegge said...

You've expressed this so well I don't need to write my own blog post now!

I have friends in Colorado who are one of the families in process of adopting a boy from #BRESMA. On Saturday morning when I learned the orphanage was out of water, I immediately began utilizing social networking on Facebook and Twitter, and contacted my legislators to advocate for assistance.

I am so grateful that each of us finds a voice, or keyboard, or our own way to contribute and perhaps make a difference. I trust it does. Hopefully one day I will meet the young boy my friends will adopt.

Thank you for your contribution. It matters, and the power of social media inspires me. May it bring aid to everyone immediately impacted.

I too am inspired!


Aphra said...

Thanks so much for reading and your kind comments!

I also pray that you can meet your friends young son, and they are lucky to have a friend that is supporting them and trying to do something, however small to make it happen.

Thanks again!

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