|Volunteers sandbag the river Sava near Belgrade|
If you thought Twitter was only for internet marketers, sports nuts, and celebrity hounds who keep up with the Kardashians and their ilk, think again. During the past week's horrific, once in a century, floods in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia, Twitter has been the vehicle that has saved lives,organized volunteers, and gotten everything from baby food to helicopters to where the need was. According to Serbian news sources, Twitter is responsible for saving at least 1500 lives. I, for one, am not surprised.
Twitter has fueled everything from flash mobs to the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street; not to mention putting the word " hashtag" into the English language. Twitter has changed the world, a fact which my generation seems largely unaware of, but which the Millennials have embraced wholeheartedly. It seems that the young people of the former Yugoslavia have united on Twitter to face this current emergency together. When you consider that just a generation ago, their parents were killing each other wholesale over territorial boundaries and religious beliefs, while littering the countryside with landmines, this is an absolute miracle. The children of war are saving their parents and grandparents and they are doing it on Twitter. They are an example to the world.
Yugoslav solidarity worked just fine for 45 years. Then the fairytale slid into another genre and ended with solidarity being eaten alive by the beast of nationalism. Wars have cleared the path for our crony capitalism with its ideology of social Darwinism: those in need were treated like social parasites and a barrier on the path of "dynamic development" of Balkan states.
Now catastrophe in the former Yugoslavia is in the headlines once again. But this time, we are not killing each other. We are helping each other instead.
There is nothing like Mother Nature flexing her muscles to remind us all of our shared humanity.
Twitter helps those of us who are far away follow the news too. Just check out #FloodSerbia on Twitter and you will get an idea of what people in the Balkans are going through. Much of this feed is in English and there are lots of photos as well. There are also a number of entitiies tweeting about collecting funds for flood victims, but personally, I am too cynical about internet scams to trust everything I see on Twitter so I am sticking with the ones listed below.
How to Donate to Balkan Flood ReliefA Paypal account set up by the Serbian Government has already raised over $150,000 in just one day. You can read about it and donate here This is perhaps the quickest way to make sure your donation gets to people who need it PDQ.
UNICEF has also started a fund to help children affected by the flood. This is what I am going with.
The British Red Cross has a special fund for the Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian Floods that you can donate to. I am sure the American Red Cross will get there soon. But at the moment, no special fund exists.
Lastly, thoughts, prayers and good wishes don't cost a penny and mean the world.