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Senegal: SunuCause, a Blogger-Driven Humanitarian Project

[All links are in French unless otherwise indicated]

The Senegalese presidential elections in March 2012 were hailed as an overall success despite some confrontations during the campaign. One of the contributing factors to this assessment was the level of citizen involvement in the political process.

A monitoring election platform driven by Senegalese bloggers was one of the flagship projects. The same team is now switching its focus to a less political cause and has launched a new initiative - SunuCause.

On the SunuCause website (the name means ‘our cause’ in the Wolof language) we can read:

L’équipe de blogueurs sénégalais, qui avait créé #sunu2012 pour couvrir l’élection présidentielle de février 2012 à travers les réseaux sociaux, s’est lancé dans les actions de solidarité participative en créant SunuCause.
L’objectif est de sensibiliser les internautes à des problèmes de société de manière à récolter des fonds grâce à des appels lancés sur Facebook et Twitter.

The team of Senegalese bloggers that had created the Sunu2012 project to cover the February 2012 presidential election through social networks has created SunuCause to engage in acts of participatory solidarity.
The objective is to raise awareness of social problems among Internet users in order to raise money through appeals launched on Facebook and Twitter.

The blog E-Goo Média explains, Pourquoi #Sunucause? (Why #SunuCause?):

#SunuCause s'inscrit donc dans des actions sociales, humanitaires et citoyennes avec la spécificité que toutes les actions seront menées à partir du web et de ses outils. … nous ne comptons pas tout attendre d'un Etat car des citoyens volontaires et conscients peuvent beaucoup faire avec un peu de volonté.

#SunuCause is a part of social, humanitarian, and civic actions taking place through the Internet and its tools. …we don't count on the State for everything because deliberate and conscious citizens can do much with a little bit of willpower.

Senegalese tweeters, who identify themselves on Twitter with the hashtag #Kebetu (which means “to twitter” in Wolof) came together for that purpose, as written by Wareef in the post Sunucause: La mission humanitaire de la Twittosphère Sénégalaise (SunuCause: The Humanitarian Mission of the Senegalese Twittersphere):

La Twittosphère sénégalaise s’est mobilisée … à Dakar lors de la seconde édition d'un Sunutweetup [ notre tweetup en Wolof ] pour le lancement d’un nouveau projet dénommé « Sunucause »

Après une présentation de chaque Twittos, …la bloggeuse Amy Jeanne a expliqué que le projet est déjà en cours car un petit groupe de blogueurs a déjà commencé le travail. Ceci dit, « sunucause est un projet ouvert à tout le monde, chacun peut y participer » poursuit Pape Ousmane.

La plateforme étant lancée, les blogueurs ont déjà repéré une cause. Il s’agit d’un « enfant du nom de Mame Thierno [âgé aujourd’hui de 5 mois] qui est né sans paupières, avec la peau lézardée, parsemée d’écailles. De jour comme de nuit, ses parents sont obligés de l’enduire d’une crème hydratante qui coûte 7 000 F CFA l’unité [environ 10 euros]. La famille, totalement démunie, en appelle à l’aide des bonnes volontés. »

The Senegalese Twittersphere rallied… in Dakar during the second Sunutweetup (means ‘our tweetup’ in Wolof) for the launch of a new project named “SunuCause.” After an introduction of each tweeter, …the blogger Amy Jeanne explained that the project was already in motion because a small group of bloggers had already begun to work. Even so, “SunuCause is a project open to everyone, everyone can participate,” said Pape Ousmane.

The platform is launched; the bloggers have already identified a cause. There is “a child named Mame Thierno (who is now five months old) who was born without eyelids, with cracked skin scattered with scales [en]. Day and night, her parents must apply a hydrating cream that costs 7,000 CFA each (about 10 Euros). The family, totally impoverished, calls on the goodwill for help.”

Sunucause team taking pictures with the family of Mame Thierno by @BoompasticPio on Twitter (used with permission).

Sunucause team taking pictures with the family of Mame Thierno by @BoompasticPio on Twitter (used with permission).

Basile tells us in Sunucause : La mission humanitaire de la Twittosphère Sénégalaise (Humanitarian Cause of Senegalese Tweeters: We Must Save the Child Mame Thierno):

Un premier lot de pommade hydratante lui a été remis en attendant de recevoir une aide plus consistante de la part de la communauté des internautes.

The first batch of hydrating cream was presented to them while waiting to receive more consistent help from the Internet community.

And he adds:

Nous lançons un appel au sens humanitaire de chacun pour collecter une somme considérable afin de se procurer une quantité importante de pommade pour aider Mame Thierno à mieux se sentir en attendant de trouver les moyens nécessaires pour organiser son évacuation en Europe pour un traitement plus avancé afin de guérir cet adorable enfant pour le bonheur de ses parents.

We appeal to the humanitarian sense of each person. We are collecting funds in order to procure a significant quantity of ointment to help Mame Thierno feel better. In the meantime, we are working to find the necessary means to organize her evacuation to Europe for more advanced treatment. We aim to cure this adorable child for the happiness of her parents.

Wareef says in Sunucause : La mission humanitaire de la Twittosphère Sénégalaise (SunuCause: The Humanitarian Mission of the Senegalese Twittersphere):

Le travail des blogueurs et twittos bénévoles sera maintenant de mobiliser les internautes à travers les réseaux sociaux pour régler une cause sociale.

The work of volunteer bloggers and tweeters will continue to mobilize the Internet community through social networks to address a social cause.

On August 15, 2012, members of the team paid their second visit to Mame Thierno's family and posted photos on Twitter here and there.

On August 16, they showed off t-shirts created to help finance this cause.

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