So, this is supposed to be “media fast” week over at the 7 Book Study group, but it’s an absolute fail for me. We had a great discussion last week about our social media habits in particular. We shredded Facebook and griped about Twitter and admitted that Pinterest is like social media crack for us – way too addictive. We love Instagram though. Thumbs up.
In past years, I’ve been thrilled to participate in media fasts. I’ve happily clicked off my Facebook for weeks at a time, and it was nice. I can do without the political diatribe, the endless memes, the rambling status updates, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been a snob about how narcissistic social media is (add blogs to that list) and thought myself above it. So this should have been an easy week for me. I could have taken great pride in my media fast, but instead, I have chosen to fail.
I love social media. And I can’t believe I just said that. Here’s the story: 10 days ago, I launched the Facebook page for Africana Children’s Education Fund. The same day, I launched the ACEF blog. As soon as our website is launched, I will create a Twitter account for ACEF. And yes, I’m actually thinking about an ACEF Instagram account as well. Can social media be used for social good? I sure hope so because I’m spending hours a day desperately trying to get someone – anyone’s – attention. I’m the equivalent of the kid pleading for someone to look her way, waving arms and yelling, “Hey, over here!” I keep pestering and prodding, begging and pleading, yet certain that there are those who click right through my posts, tweets, and photos because they are tired of hearing from me. But I know this: sometimes, there is no better way to get your message out to a large audience than social media. Does that always mean results? No. But if it gets only one person to listen and respond, then it’s worth it. So here you are, reading my blog. You must know where this is going, right?
I could go knock on 50 doors, make dozens of phone calls, spend money on a mass mailing, but instead, I’m using social media to tell you the story of five orphans. They range in age from 15 to 6 years old, and they live in a tiny one-room dwelling with their grandmother in Ankaase, Ghana. Sometimes she has money to feed them, and sometimes she must ask relatives to help her care for the children. Relatives can only help so much, however, because they are also struggling to feed their children and grandchildren. The government won’t help. Good people in the local church do what they can to help the family, but it’s not enough. These are smart, beautiful children, like yours and mine – you know, the children whose photos we plaster all over Facebook and Instagram. And we should. Children are a gift, a blessing, and they are to be enjoyed with exuberance and cared for with great tenderness. We would fight long and hard for the safety and well-being of our children because we realize how precious they are.
So I’m grateful for social media because I can share the photos of these five children with you, and then I’m going to fight hard to get your attention fixed on their plight. These children need to go to school. Right now they attend school sporadically, only when there is money to pay school fees. At times, their grandmother must ask for handouts just to keep them from going hungry. School fees are a luxury. They deserve better than this. ACEF is looking for a sponsor for each of these children: $50/month. A couple of letters a year. The assurance that your sponsorship money will make a life-changing difference for them. You hear this all the time, but it’s real. A little goes such a long way.
If you are interested in the details of how sponsorship works and how you can begin sponsoring one of these children, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So my 7 Book Study continues and I’m going to give myself a very low grade for this week. But if just one person steps up to care for one of these children through a sponsorship, I’ll consider my addiction to social media worth it.