Social media has made it very easy for people around the world to donate their money to people who are dealing with crises, whether they live down the block or on the other side of the globe.
Although individuals have traditionally been quick to donate funds to help with issues such as natural disasters, financial support for people suffering from Ebola in Africa has been slow to materialize.
However, the tech-savvy team behind a website called End Ebola Now believes social media could help with that problem by encouraging people to part with their money for a worthy cause.
Misinformation Could Be Negatively Impacting Financial Support for Ebola Victims
Scroll through your social media feed for a few minutes and chances are you'll find at least a few posts based on misinformation about Ebola. The misinformation that keeps popping up about the disease seems to be one of the main deterrents for people who would otherwise be willing to give to the support groups fighting against it.
It's important that we remember that even though there's a lot of false information about Ebola circulating through social media, that doesn't mean Ebola's not worth our concern. It just means that people writing coverage about Ebola are afraid and jumping to false conclusions, or simply not taking the time to properly research their articles.
Representatives from the United Nations have already warned how necessary it'll be to put forth 20 times the amount of current effort if people are serious about containing and halting this epidemic.
Social Group Uses Dance Movement to Raise Awareness and Money for Ebola Victims
Rather than focusing on fear or misinformed reports about Ebola, the people at End Ebola Now are taking a distinctly different approach. Specifically, they're encouraging people to dance. A viral campaign featuring the hashtag #ShakeEbolaOff has gotten impressive support, including support from celebrities such as Kevin Bacon.
If you've ever seen the footage of Christopher Walken dancing in Fatboy Slim's music video for the song "Weapon of Choice," you understand how dancing is something people seem to universally appreciate and connect with. If there's a famous person showing off his or her moves in a video clip, it increases the chances the piece might go viral.
In the case of the campaign to end Ebola, dance has even more significance. Sierra Leone is one area of Africa that has been hit especially hard by the epidemic. Rather than showing fear during this dire situation, residents there have displayed remarkable resilience and a desire to lead lives that are as normal as possible.
Dance is also integral to the African culture, often used as a communication medium and method of bringing people together. End Ebola Now is hoping dance will do the same to unite people across social media.
Raising Much Needed Funds for a Hospital
A non-profit organization based in San Francisco, CA called Emergency USA runs Sierra Leone's only fully functioning hospital. As you may have expected, the number of patients treated there in recent weeks has risen significantly. A second facility is under construction, but won't be completed until next month.
Emergency USA provides treatment to people who test positive for Ebola, often free of charge. Unlike many of our treatment and medical aid facilities in the U.S., those in Sierra Leone don't have health insurance or really any way to pay for the medical care they need, unless they have a substantial amount of money. According to the World Health Organization, the healthcare available in Sierra Leone is dependent on external benefactors for funding.
Representatives in Sierra Leone say that both increased awareness and prompt treatment of symptoms are needed to stop Ebola's spread. People who participate in the #ShakeEbolaOff movement aren't just expected to groove to a beat and get someone to film the action. Financial donations are necessary, too.
Today's "Ice Bucket Challenge"
A couple of months ago, social media feeds were filled with people willingly dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. They were all taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds, usually after being nominated by friends in their social media network.
The aim of #ShakeEbolaOff is similar, in that it encourages people to film themselves dancing, but also make donations to Emergency USA afterwards. Nominating friends and sharing your own video is a great way to help the campaign gain more momentum. You can also shoot a group dance video, like the Rock of Ages Las Vegas Ladies did.
A Million Dollar Goal
End Ebola Now hopes to raise a million dollars to fight Ebola. A donation of just $50 is enough to purchase protective gear for a healthcare worker who treats Ebola sufferers. All money raised will go directly to Emergency USA.
If you're ready to show off your dancing skills for a good cause, show some moves, shoot a clip, and nominate friends to follow your lead.
Doing that is at least more helpful than sharing an Ebola graphic that may be based on incorrect information, or mostly intended to make people feel fearful instead of educating them.
Image by Vladimir Pustovit