This week, in the Moivaro village of Arusha, Tanzania, in the shadow of Mt. Meru, a group of schoolkids discovered Twitter. A year ago, Shepherds Junior School hadn't even been built yet and students who didn't even have access to a library couldn't have imagined that they would be able to communicate with the whole world through donations from social media.
That's where a U.S. nonprofit called Epic Change came in. They saw the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to encourage thankful Twitter users to give back.
Epic Change launched the original TweetsGiving celebration in November 2008 as a 48-hour celebration of gratitude and giving that successfully raised over $10,000 to build a classroom in Arusha, Tanzania. Imagined and built entirely by volunteers in six days, TweetsGiving was launched 2 days before the US Thanksgiving holiday, and quickly became the #1 trending topic on Twitter as thousands of grateful tweets from across the globe filled the stream, and hundreds of blogs...Epic Change invested the funds to build a classroom at a school founded by Tanzanian Epic Change fellow "Mama Lucy" Kamptoni, a woman who used to sell chickens and used her income to build a school that now serves over 300 children near her home in Arusha. In this classroom built from gratitude, the Twitter handles of donors are now painted on the walls.
Now that the Internet is up and running, the students at Shepherds Junior School are raring to talk to the world. Epic Change has dubbed them "The Twitterkids of Tanzania" and has made it easy to catch up with the students, via Twitter, of course.
Users can send a tweet directly to any of the children listed on the #Twitterkids blog. For an overview of what the kids are doing, you can follow the #twitterkids meme or the school's @ShepherdsJr account.
We've got to admit, conversing with the kids, who are currently sharing their hobbies and dreams in @replies, is a lot more fun than reading about how bored our friends are at work.
So is this utterly adorable video of thanks (the fact that it's serving double duty as an ad doesn't even kill its cuteness):
Epic Change plans to expand their plans even more this year, by including live events around the world and reaching out to social media users on more online networks. They're also heading back to Tanzania:
With a recent grant from IdeaBlob that was also won through successful social media efforts in Tanzania and across the globe, Epic Change will be partnering with Kamptoni in Tanzania to implement a technology lab at the primary school where last year's TweetsGiving classroom was built.