These last few months have been intense. But amidst all the adversity, millions of us in this movement have risen beautifully and impacted the world in profound ways.
It’s a time we’ll never forget. Just months ago, who could have imagined that billions of us would stay home for weeks and do billions of acts of kindness to protect one another from a deadly virus?
This pandemic is far from over, but these stories, built brick by brick by the actions of millions of people, offer hope that we can make it through this crisis and anything else we will face. Together.
May they be a reminder that in our darkest hours, we can shine our brightest.
"Today we had a mango feast! Na'savi boys and girls travel for many kilometers so their families can work from sunrise to sunset for a few pesos. Thanks to the Avaaz community we can provide them with nutritious food, medical care and educational activities."
It was early April when the UN warned that the world faced a famine of 'biblical proportions’. At Avaaz, almost every day brought new heartbreaking requests from every corner of the globe. I felt helpless.Read More
So we put out a call for help -- and this community answered… With our biggest fundraiser EVER! Over 130,000 wonderful Avaazers donated, providing food and medical aid to forgotten communities in India and Pakistan; supporting indigenous families like Masha's, who's enjoying that juicy mango (pictured), as well as giving emergency aid to displaced people in Syria and to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. And this is just the start -- while you're reading this, we’re helping friends in Haiti, Yemen, South Africa, Uganda, Peru, and Brazil as they race against the virus and the socio-economic fallout.
I’m so proud of us.
“I cannot thank Avaaz enough for helping us in the hour of greatest need. You have helped save lives. Thanks to you, many of us feel hopeful again about a brighter future.”
Covid-19 threatened to devastate Nashulai, the award-winning Maasai conservancy Avaaz helped to set up. Overnight, tourist income was wiped out. Families faced hunger and shortages of medical supplies. And without money to pay rangers, wildlife was under threat from poaching.Read More
But Nashulai's Maasai elders came up with an amazing plan to rise to this moment, and I knew our movement would want to help. Within days, enough money was raised to help - feeding people in need and securing the jobs of heroic rangers protecting precious wildlife. But thanks to the many donations from our wonderful movement, we didn’t stop there - the conservancy was able to help surrounding villages survive, not only distributing food but also kickstarting health programs and long term food production projects. Now the conservancy is becoming a beacon of hope for others in the crisis. I’m so proud of how we stood with Nashulai!
“Avaazers everywhere should know that their support for Nashulai has saved lives, fed families and kept wildlife safe from poachers. We want to say thank you for standing with our community as we face the threat of Covid-19.”
“Thing is, it wasn’t the globe’s most powerful tech regulator that forced Facebook to acknowledge flaws in its policy — it was campaign group Avaaz...”
It was early in the crisis when we saw the first lies about coronavirus going viral. Days later, close friends and family started sharing false health advice. So we began an investigation, and within weeks released a bombshell report showing Facebook was an epicenter of misinformation, and urging the platform to act.Read More
We shared our findings with Facebook before launching it. On the day we went public, they announced that they would alert ALL users who had engaged with harmful Covid-19 misinformation, and direct them to fact-checked corrections on the WHO website. This is the first time Facebook has EVER done that! They even publicly thanked Avaaz for helping to develop their approach. While they need to do so much more, we can all feel immensely proud of what we achieved! Also… Watch this space because we have some GROUNDBREAKING surprises on the way.
Facebook’s announcement on the day of our report release said that the company is “going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed. These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO…” In our understanding, informed also by conversations we had with their team, this means that Facebook will show these to any user who has interacted with such harmful misinformation. Mark Zuckerberg himself said, that “Around covid we actually started rolling out a new policy, so that if you share something or directly interact with something that later gets marked as false by a fact-checker, we will then retroactively send you a notification and show a link to here’s some debunked memes.” This is a huge step in the right direction, but in order to fully live up to Avaaz’ proposal to correct the record, Facebook needs to show a) specific fact-checked corrections to b) everyone who has seen the misinformation, and do so for c) all misinformation content that is verified as false or misleading by independent fact-checkers.
Avaaz is expanding our anti-disinformation team. If you are interested, visit this link: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/hiring/
“We share Avaaz's goal of reducing misinformation about COVID-19 and appreciate their partnership in developing the notifications we'll now be showing people who engaged with harmful misinformation about the virus we've since removed.”
As the crisis developed, doctors on the frontlines told us horror stories of patients drinking bleach to cure themselves, or dying in front of their eyes because they had thought the virus was just another flu, and came into hospital too late.Read More
So we teamed up with top doctors around the world and placed an open letter in The New York Times calling on social media CEOs to “stop giving oxygen to Covid-19 misinformation”. Insiders told us that it was put directly on the desks of top social media executives.
Media across the world reported on the open letter, and the doctors were interviewed by the BBC, MSNBC and many more. British MPs even heard some of their testimonies right before grilling executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google! In countries like Spain, Brazil, Germany and Italy, health expert signatories’ stories were in almost every major news outlet.
In the weeks following our report and the open letter, Mark Zuckerberg was asked on live TV about our proposal to issue corrections to misinformation and then Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was questioned about our shocking report findings.
Almost every day during the crisis, I stood on my balcony and applauded our healthcare workers. But this work meant that we actually had their backs during this time, supporting them in the best way we could - we fought lies, so they could save lives.
“Disinformation has been the virus’ key ally in enabling its carnage. It is both deadly and deeply disrespectful to health workers on the frontlines and our patients.”
I was about to sign off for the weekend, but then I read UN Chief António Guterres’ bold call for a global ceasefire so the world could unite to fight the virus. 'The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war', he said. I got goosebumps. The UN chief was interested in sharing his call with Avaazers -- and the response was overwhelming. Over 2.3 millions of us signed!Read More
Guterres publicly expressed his "deep gratitude" to us before taking the call to the powerful UN Security Council and called on world leaders to silence the guns. His team repeatedly cited our petition in its advocacy and media as evidence of public support. Many others raised their voices -- from the Pope, to Malala, to Leonardo DiCaprio. And finally, after months of negotiations, the Security Council adopted a resolution for a global ceasefire. For the first time in history!
The resolution calls on all parties involved in armed conflicts to cease fire for at least 90 consecutive days, to allow for delivery of humanitarian assistance and medical evacuations. I could not be more proud of the massive momentum our community generated at this crucial time.
“A heartfelt thank you to the more than two million people worldwide who have raised your voice in support of the UN appeal for a global ceasefire amid #COVID19.”
It was a Monday morning at the end of March. We feared a rapid next wave of the coronavirus would be even deadlier in countries with fewer resources and already weak health systems. Hearing that G20 leaders would be meeting in days, we moved fast. Overnight we drafted a campaign, calling on them to cancel the debt of the world's poorest countries, so governments could spend that money to contain the virus.Read More
Then, just before G20 Finance Ministers met, we splashed our call across a full-page ad in The Economist. With groups like Jubilee Debt Campaign, we made sure the voices of global citizens were heard. Days later, the G20 decided to offer to suspend all bilateral debt for 77 of the world's poorest countries for the entire year -- amounting to an estimated $12 billion. There's a lot more to be done, but for now precious resources have been freed up to fight the pandemic and protect lives. Let’s keep moving!
One evening the news broke that US President Donald Trump was pulling funding from the WHO… At the height of the pandemic! Over 1 million Avaazers hit back against Trump’s decision, calling on support for organizations tackling the crisis like the WHO -- and urging world leaders for fair universal access to vaccines and treatments for everyone!Read More
As key government delegations negotiated their first joint health declaration since the pandemic hit, we placed a hard-hitting newspaper ad calling out the US administration's tactics to put patents over patients. We ran polling showing that 8 in 10 Americans want a fair distribution of vaccines, and at the end of the meeting most governments agreed to a joint declaration for universal access! A safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine will still take time, but we’ll keep fighting to make sure everyone can access it fairly as soon as it’s ready - because the virus anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.
One morning during confinement, I realised that the moment to end the lockdown in our minds had come -- what if we turned the Covid-19 crisis around, and actually used it to fuel the clean and safe future we all dream of?Read More
So when EU leaders met to discuss Europe's economic recovery, we drafted an open letter that soon reached 1 million signers -- and placed a series of media ads -- calling on three powerful women to champion a Green Recovery, including the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
We received a personal thank you note from the President -- and just 3 weeks ago, she proposed an ambitious recovery package that included billions for climate action and efforts to build a greener economic future.
Watch this space! EU governments are right now debating the plan.
With a smile,
“Thank you... Initiatives like yours provide extra motivation to push forward, building a better Europe: fairer, more resilient and sustainable. Together we can do it”
🇵🇹 Eloisa launched a network of women in Peniche to sew thousands of masks for frontline workers and vulnerable families. Yep, that's the women below!
🇲🇽 Adela from Mexico City offers free online counseling to other Avaaz members, to help us cope with isolation. “I was away from home and from my family, but the two hours a week with Adela was like taking a breath of fresh air”, Liza said.
🇪🇨 Carola, who is a social worker in Quito, created a safe space for women who have experienced violence in quarantine -- providing support, resources and a buddy system to connect women and keep them safe.
🇬🇲 Hagi's village in the Gambia has no running water, so he offered handwash buckets and soap outside his store to fight Covid-19.
🇦🇹 🇩🇪🇨🇭 Katja started a petition to open borders and reunite families who were separated by quarantine laws across Europe. When a Swiss Olympic medallist endorsed her campaign, it took off in the media and authorities allowed families to reunite.
🇳🇿 Antonia mobilised 160k New Zealanders to support suspending rent and mortgage payments during the crisis, helped deliver the signatures to the NZ Government, and they listened!
🇷🇴 Florentin started a petition that was endorsed by key figures and was featured in the media, and he helped secure social support for independent artists in Romania during the pandemic.
🇲🇦 Jari started a campaign that grabbed the media’s attention and helped win financial support for the self-employed workers of Morocco.
🇪🇸 Tatiana is collecting yummy local produce and distributing it to vulnerable families in Cantabria. Just last week her group delivered 415 baskets!
🇧🇷 Mariana petitioned her local authorities to cancel an event that would have brought more than 300,000 visitors to her town amidst the pandemic -- and she won.
🇨🇦 Riaz organises social distancing trainings for protesters, and distributes face masks in rallies to keep demonstrators safe and democracy alive.
🇬🇷 Local residents mobilised huge support to stop high rise hotels being built next to the ancient monument of Acropolis, and won!
🇧🇷 Thiago mobilised support to ask for the construction of a field hospital, and the Governor responded.
🇵🇱 Marcin launched a 360,000 strong campaign to support the democratic movement asking for the Polish election to be postponed over safety and fairness concerns - and it worked!
At the moment the crisis hit, Avaaz members around the world set up local solidarity groups to support the most vulnerable, and launched a new community campaign every 45 seconds. More than ever before!
Watching so many of us take responsibility at a time of dire need has left me in awe, and so below is a small taste of how Avaazers are shining humanity’s best light during some of the darkest days :)
Our individual and collective actions have made kindness go viral during this pandemic, spreading solidarity and hope to millions across the world.
PS. 85,000 Avaaz members also helped Selena save her kitten that could have been euthanised by Belgian authorities! The kitten is now safe back in Peru and it will soon be welcome in Belgium with Selena. It’s easy to start your own campaign and gather support on an issue you care about here. Meow 😻
“Thank you to everyone who signed petitions and looked out for their communities during lockdown. It made a difference.”
“Athens hotel ordered to demolish top floors blocking Acropolis view”
“I’m grateful for the communities that we’ve built. Humanity won’t go down by the virus or anything else, as long as we have love. I’m grateful for this group, and so many millions around the world gathering around the vulnerable. Thank you for being at the forefront of keeping humanity going.”
“There is an urgency to empower people. And we have big power thanks to this platform.”
“To see so many people wanting to do good, and create a global movement of kindness makes me happy and full.”
“Something beautiful is emerging from this challenging situation. We’ve been building a community here and the Avaaz group was so needed. We're seeing, not only locally but globally, that although we're physically distant, we’re more connected than ever.”
These are some of the beautiful stories we'll have the privilege of telling our children and grandchildren one day, about this time when the world stood still.
Even more, each of us has a story to tell about this moment -- of choosing hope over despair, love over division, kindness over indifference. And we'd like to hear yours :) Find the box below to share your own story, whatever has moved you, or inspired you, or given you hope in these unprecedented times.