Social Media Impact

A Case Study Of Skip A Meal Initiative

Social media has a big impact on our world especially with today’s youth. Below is given is a brief story of a few students’ response to fight against hunger and poverty and how social media has impacted our “Skip a meal’ initiative.

You and I know that hundreds of children in India still go to sleep hungry. We know that one in every three malnourished children in the world lives right here in India. And this is no dystopia. We understand that it would take a lot more than just tall poll promises and poverty eradication programmes by the authorities to change this reality. Yet, this is a fact most of us have come to accept passively. When, we as a bunch of students from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tuljapur campus, came face to face with this side of India, we decided to do something about it.

About two year ago, my friends and I, the 2012 BASS batch ofTISS – set out to survey poverty and destitution in Tuljapur, Maharashtra . That led us to two orphanages/child care centres of the village –Tuljabhavani School and Tuljai Balgrah. There were over 150 children, studying in nursery grade to 10th. Many of them were orphans, some were abandoned and some had parents who could hardly feed them. These children ate roti’s everyday with chilli powder mixed in water. In our college campus, we were fed sumptuously. Eggs, lentils, vegetables, rice etc. We had unlimited food three times a day. We were concerned by the fact that less than a kilometre away from us, there were hundreds of children who, perhaps, never had a good meal in their life. Same time news came in leading newspapers that our neighbouring district Amarvati was affected by severe drought and hundreds of children were affected by malnutrition. We came up with a plan to support the underprivileged kids. Since we are all students and don’t have much money we thought we can skip one time meal and provide it to these orphanages nearby. In my childhood days at Orissa my siblings and I celebrated our birthdays at Orphanages. When I shared my concerns about Orphan kids and suggested that we can skip one meal and support the nearby Orphanages my classmates and friends agreed.

We named this initiative as Skip A Meal (SAM) and started a Facebook page
Initially, our modus operandi was to skip one meal every week and feed the children of the two orphanages. Our mission broadened as we found that the children needed more than just good food. Most of these children suffered from serious family problems. We decided to support them holistically, not only provide good food for one time but also provide counselling, education and involve with other recreation programmes. Slowly a few students shared about it and through skip a meal Facebook page it became viral . One of the online social groups picked it up and wrote a story.
Later on other online social media group and a few newspapers wrote about it. There were many youths who appreciated this humble initiative and they also took an effort to start the same in their campuses.

The initiative continued within Tuljapur until news about this went viral through Social Media. A lot of colleges contacted us, wanting to start similar initiatives in their communities. In no time, St Stephen’s, Delhi and Madras Christian College, Chennai have been running this programme for the last one year successfully. Now, we as a group hope to make this a national student’s programme. We are engaged in talks with various colleges to get the scheme off the ground. All these have been possible only through Social Media support.
What I learnt through this small beginning is that while “education” is still a great tool for levelling the playing field on this planet, social media has emerged as the new “equalizer.” Anyone with a mobile phone that has access to internet can use social media to spread ideas, raise money, and even start or join a movement.

Some of the benefits we could enjoy by using the social media are listed below.
One of the main advantages of social media is that it reaches millions of people in just a couple of minutes. Today, students across different colleges in different cities whom I have never met in my life are a part of this movement. It is proved that social media can reach huge audience across the globe. After couple of postings many people contacted us and appreciated our initiative. TISS Director and many faculty members also came to know about this initiative and came forward to provide necessary support.

Social media when compared to the other mass media does not need expertise skills and training, but it only needs the reinterpretation of existing skills. It is very easy to operate and access social media for a person with minimum knowledge of operating computer and one can easily avail the vast services provided by social media. It is known for its ease of use. Most of us are undergraduate students and our team could easily upload Skip a Meal images and stories on our Facebook page.

Social media is capable of conveying information within seconds. People or audience can get quick updates on the latest news with just a single click. You can get the Word out cheaper and faster.

It is very tough to mobilise the communities in these days for any social issues. Especially today’s youth is very much involved with their education, career and other business activities. But now you can reach out and mobilise them for a social cause 24*7-365 using a Facebook Group, or a LinkedIn. Anti-Corruption movement and Aam Admi Party ( AAP ) campaigns are classic examples
We, have been able to impact and change the life of our volunteers too, Sashika Patel a volunteer at TISS, says, “The biggest impact we make is making people happy. We build a relationship with them, play with them and educate them. They remember us and ask for us, even if we don’t turn up for one weekend.” There was this instance when we went to the care centre one weekend, and all the children came up to us and told us they would like to skip their meal and donate it to people who need it more than them. Such moments touch our hearts. We were moved beyond words to see their sacrificial attitude even in the face of suffering.” Through working with the initiative I think as students we have benefited more. We could see other face of life. Many orphan kids have gone through the hardest experiences, which we can’t even imagine. Seeing them, we realise how thankful we should be to God for whatever we have. That’s one lesson this generation should learn.

Become a thought leader in the space you serve. Social media andblogging allows you to demonstrate your understanding and expertise in your area of interest, and more importantly, you can showcase that understanding and expertise more easily than ever before. You can reach more people than ever with your blog posts, videos, messages and even tweets.

Skip a Meal initiative began from one college campus and now it is known to many campuses through social media .

Arpan Roy_grey
Arpan Roy
A graduate from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Currently working as Executive Corporate Communication – ESAF (Evangelical Social Action Forum)

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