SEATTLE — On March 15, 2017, Jerome Jarre, an internet personality famous for his energetic videos of interacting with people on the streets, started a social media campaign to aid Somalia. The star posted on his twitter about a call he received from volunteers in Somalia who recalled a story about a six-year-old girl dying from dehydration.
Somalia is currently in the middle of a famine that has hit many eastern African countries, due to the severe drought that has plagued the region for years.
As recently as 2011, Somalia suffered a famine which killed around 260,000 people. Now, Somalia faces another famine. According to andaluagency.com, 20 million people in East Africa are on the brink of starvation and 1.4 million are children.
This inspired Jarre to research how he could get food to the starving Somalis. After finding out that Turkish Airlines is the only international airline that flies into Somalia, Jarre created the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia. Jarre hoped to use the money collected from the social media campaign to fill up a Turkish airline flight with food and drop it off in Somalia.
After thousands of retweets from his online followers, the hashtag eventually reached actor Ben Stiller, who teamed up with Jarre and others to promote the cause.
Stiller shared a video on his twitter with the caption: “If you have 2 minutes and 20 seconds check this out. #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia” in which he reached out to his followers about the ongoing crisis in Somalia, asking them to donate to the social media campaign to aid Somalia via a GoFundME account created by Jarre, which he named “Love Army for Somalia.”
Two days later on March 17, after much media hype, the dream to help Somalia became real when Turkish Airlines responded back on its official twitter with “Ready for take-off to help Somalia” — a moment that the ecstatic Jarre and friends took to twitter to share.
Days later, Jarre posted on Social media that because of recent conflicts, the plan for the campaign had been adjusted, as reported by NPR.com. Jarre said multiple experienced NGOs has informed him that sending tons of can crash the local market price and hurt small local businesses there, so instead the money would be used to get small NGOs on the ground to buy food directly in Somalia. “We’ve decided to use that [airplane]space (60 Tonnes) to fly special food for malnourished babies. The name of the food is PLUMPY’NUT.”
The social media campaign to aid Somalia has built up enough media hype to reach multiple celebrities, who have since donated to the Love Army for Somalia account. The celebrity donors include musician Calvin Harris and NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick, who both separately donated $25,000. Alex and Ani became the first company to donate to the cause on March 25, with a donation of $50,000.
On Wednesday, March 22, less than a week after the confirmation from Turkish Airlines, it was announced that the social media campaign to aid Somalia had surpassed its goal of one million dollars and had already raised two million dollars from over 80,000 contributors.
On Monday, March 27, 2017, the flight was scheduled to fly into Somalia, where Jarre and fellow Mexican YouTube star Juanpa Zurita were also landing to hand out food. What will Jerome Jarre do next? We will just have to wait and see.
– Maria Rodriguez