A children’s home in Nepal, damaged by the earthquake in April that killed more than 8000 people, is now in the process of re-establishing itself, thanks largely to a campaign by the Fraser Coast Chronicle which has raised more than $140,000.
When news of the earthquake broke, the Queensland newspaper reached out to the Forget Me Not Children’s Home founded by Hervey Bay resident Lars Olsen, with money raised by a group of Hervey Bay volunteers in 2006.
Editor of the Fraser Coast Chronicle Clementine Norton believed it was important to alert readers to the plight of the home.
“The key part for the Chronicle was getting the story out into the wider public, for social media in particular,” she said.
“While the home was supported all over the world, it only had one social media account and a few followers, but nothing compared to the reach that we have.”
Ms Norton believes that newspapers have an advantage over television in a campaign like this.
“We have more space to tell a full story. Rather than a 30-second grab on TV, you can read an in-depth package of what the problem is. Because we’re online and on social media, we can keep people up to date,” she said.
To alert people to the story, the paper ran a story on page one and used its social media channels.
“The main response from readers was with their wallet, which was fantastic,“ she said.
“The story was shared on Facebook, and went well. We had people calling in, wanting to get involved.”
The aim for the Chronicle was to get the story out to as many people as possible. “When campaigning for a goal it’s important to get as much reach as possible,” Ms Norton said.
In the end, the campaign was supported internationally, not just the Fraser Coast. This was made possible through residents sharing the stories online.
An initial amount of $55,000 was required by the children’s home, and this target was reached within the first week of the campaign, with close to $27,000 being raised the first day.
However, more money was needed.
“Due to the nature of things like earthquakes, and being a children’s home, they were actually taking on more children into their homes, so their needs increased greatly,” said Ms Norton.
While the campaign was a success, the Chronicle did face challenges.
“Communicating with people in Nepal in light of the earthquake was challenging for the organisation. Getting up to date tallies and figures was a bit problematic at points, but the biggest challenge was to keep the story fresh,” said Ms Norton.
To date, the campaign has raised more than $140,000. The main part of the campaign has ended, but it is still ongoing.
Andrea Nave, chief executive officer of Forget Me Not Australia, believes that newspapers play an important role in generating local support for global issues.
“Given the new innovative landscape that we all play in, with social media and whatnot, I do think the place for newsprint media is still a very strong one, especially when it comes to community support,” she said.
“We’re really hoping to be able to create a better world, and we’re grateful that small and great communities such as the Fraser Coast are right behind us through the vehicle of the Fraser Coast Chronicle.”
Forget Me Not Australia has been operating in Nepal for 10 years. It rescues children from illegal orphanages.
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