PESHAWAR: Using social networking sites in times of natural calamities to get one’s message across is becoming a trend these days.
Several groups and individuals had not only used Facebook and other social networking sites during the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) crisis effectively, but are now using these sites to collect donations for flood-stricken people.
Najiullah Khattak, a resident of Peshawar and education consultant, has also set up a group on Facebook to collect donations for flood-battered people of the far-flung areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Khattak told The Express Tribune that so far he has collected around Rs1.7 million since he launched his group on August 2 following the devastating floods hit the region.
He said that he started the activity at an individual level and approached his friends and relatives through the group; however, it expanded overtime as more and more people started contacting him, including expatriate Pakistanis and some foreigners.
“I made a database of the recipients of aid and uploaded their pictures, identity card and mobile phone numbers onto the group page, so that donors may be satisfied that their aid has reached the right place,” Khattak said.
He said that he was now planning to send a relief consignment of six to seven tons to the worst-hit district of Swat. The consignment cost his group Rs700,000.
He said another consignment would be sent to Dir district, adding that they planned to send these relief supplies to remote areas of the province, where government and other agencies were not able to reach.
He said that earlier he had worked on similar projects during the IDPs crisis, and had learnt his lessons from the disaster.
This time he was planning to give money to some other organisation to help the flood survivors, but a friend suggested using Facebook and it worked wonders. “Now we plan to send some five consignments to flood hit areas, Khattak said.
He said that locals, overseas Pakistan and some foreigners have also donated for flood victims. Facebook was the best medium for such purposes, “as you do not use money for promotion purposes, which is wasted.” He said by using social networking sites, one could put costs of promotion to some better use.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2010.