Friday, February 25, 2011

The Student Volunteer Army.......

Students, young people, often come in for a lot of flak from the older generation, don't they. And then there is technology - it is a wonderful thing. I love it. I use it. I can communicate with the world.

But Christchurch has moved my appreciation of it, and the young people who have always had it in their lives, to a whole new level. Put the students and the technology together, and you have a powerful combination.

Did you know that there is an army of over 18,000 students out there in the city? Highly organised, and all through the Internet. Their appeal for volunteers went viral, and they have this amazing band of students on the streets, responding to the needs of people all over the city. They are digging gardens, cleaning streets, taking food and water to people who can't get to depots, dealing with liquefaction, which is something I had never heard of. Have you?

The Student Volunteer Army is highly organised and has the full support of the Civil Defence department and the powers that be in Christchurch, and if you are on Facebook, you can check out their page - AC Student Volunteer Army. People throughout the city can text them, using a code "help me" and list their needs, or do so on their Facebook page, and a team of students will be dispatched to help, armed with their spades.


I am totally blown away by their willingness to get in there, to do the dirty work, to help and to make a difference to so many people in their city.

And it doesn't stop there.

The students in Dunedin saw a need, and stepped into another gap. Communicating via the Internet, they volunteered to provide lunches for the Student Army. They wanted to help. So today, they are organising over 10,000 lunches. Their website Keep them going is up and they are asking for people to provide food for the volunteers. They have also got companies providing the transport of the lunches, farmers providing fresh fruit.....all through the Internet. Wonderful.

Christchurch is a devastated city. Over a third of the buildings in the city centre will have to be demolished. The city has a really difficult time ahead. More than 200 people are still missing, and 123 have been confirmed dead as I write. It is a sad sad time for the people trying to put their lives back together. Imagine a city centre being off limits for several months. TVNZ has excellent live update coverage. The only way it can be rebuilt is with the entire community working together, and these young people are a credit to their university, country, city, their parents and themselves. I am SO proud of them all, so impressed and so encouraged by them. Every one of them.

With their use of Twitter and Facebook, and with their huge knowledge of the Social Media phenomenon, they are in a position to spread the word at incredible speed and meet a need. This is a shining example of the Computer Generation in the best of ways. Armed with their smart phone, laptops, energy, and spades, they are making a huge difference. We can all learn from them.

In recent weeks, this new method of communication creating change has been transforming the world, you know - the use of Social Media in the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan revolutions is well documented. President Obama brought technology into the political world during his presidential campaign, but here - it is moving on to amazing levels.

There are of course, times when it is used for diabolical means too, but I don't want to talk about that right now. I want to celebrate the good. The students in Christchurch deserve all the cheers today. Just wonderful.

(This is the second time I have written this - or a variation of it. Blogger decided to eat it, and then sign me out. I ws less than thrilled. But I really wanted to tell you about these amazing kids, so started from the beginning. Again. )


The Bookworm said...

Wow! Wonderful.

I tried to leave a comment earlier in the week to say how relieved I was to hear that Diana was fine, but my phone ate it. I had been worrying about her and watching your blog for an update. (Hence catching up on my phone but falling at the comment hurdle.)

Vee said...

Good. This is good to know and I have not heard it anywhere else. I watched our local news and saw footage of a bride and groom. On Tuesday, she had been buried in the rubble there and her fiancé had helped dig her out. It's a lovely story, but it certainly doesn't reach the level of the story you're telling. I'm glad you persevered.

PEA said...

It is indeed heartwarming to see what these students are doing. Too many times the older generation put down the youth as being lazy, irresponsible and such but when push comes to shove, these youth can show what they're really made of:-) I've been seeing a lot of the devastation in Christchurch on tv and as you say, they have a long road ahead of them but they are off to a great start with all those helping people!! xoxo

Crystal said...

I didn't know about this and I am so happy to hear the story. I was thinking about social networking and political change tonight which is amazing, in one way. But this is so humanitarian and is helping when the need is so great and the tragedy so sudden. Our world is in good hands with the next generation. There will always be those who go to extremes but they are really a minority that gets more coverage. Is Diana involved in this group?

Donnetta said...

Thank you for sharing this! I hadn't heard but what an amazing thing happening!

The internet holds so many dangers and garbage... but on the other side so many blessings and encouragements. This is just one example of how it is being used for amazing good!

WOW! How encouraging!

Sheila said...

Linds - this is just a fantastic story. i hadn't heard of this volunteer army - so impressive. i know the world has good young people in it. This story should be front page news everywhere. What an inspiration these young people should be to everyone! Thanks for letting us know!

Sheila said...

Hope you don't mind Linds - I thought your story needed to be shared - let me know if you do...

This morning I came across an amazing story that I haven't heard on the news. I'd like to simply refer you to Linds, a fellow blogger. She's shared a wonderful story of how the young people in Christchurch are being helped by the Student Volunteer Army. How wonderful! It's a good news story that you'll be glad you took the time to read.

LindyLouMac said...

I am here because Shelia shared a link to this wonderful post here on your blog, my thanks to you both. Why is it we never here of such wonderful stories on the television news where they always seem to focus just on the depressing aspects of the disasters. it is reassuring to hear of such things going on.

Dawn said...

It's so true that these kinds of stories should be on the news - such as the wonderful things the soldiers do in Iraq. I don't understand why bad news sells more papers. It's a mixed up world we live in! Thanks for the reminder of the goodness in this post and the previous one.

A bouquet of tulips on my kitchen table that I took a picture of last spring showed up on my desktop wallpaper yesterday and I enjoyed it immensely every time I checked messages. I can hardly wait for spring because Dwight planted hundreds more bulbs - what an exciting prospect to look forward to!

We're enjoying some quiet - quiet is highly underrated!!

Have a blessed week-end and take care of yourself!

Pondside said...

What a wonderful post. Bless those students - this will change their lives as well as the lives of those they help.

Midlife Mom said...

Yes too many times we hear only the bad about the younger generation and not the good that they do. Amazing story, I am so glad that you shared it with us as it is uplifting to know that in the midst of a nightmare good things are being done. Thank you Linds!

Olson Family said...

Thank you for sharing this story Linds. And yes, I've lived in liquifaction areas of Southern CA - very interesting to experience an earthquake in a building on rollers. As devastating as these things are, it is heartwarming to see the spirit in which people mobilize to help one another.
And happy Spring to you - tulips and orangey-yellow roses are brightening my house. Can't wait for the bulbs to bloom but looks like it will be April - snowdrops are up though.

Meggie said...

A lovely post of appreciation, and gratitude, Linds. We are all grieving for someone we love, as well as that beautiful City.