Web 2.0 doing good in the world

3 minute read


Regular readers of this blog will know that WITNESS is a charity that we support. The reason we do that is mainly because the work they do is very worthwhile, and puts into perspective the problems that we think we face every day, which by comparison with those faced by WITNESS’s constituency are trivial. Another reason that attracts us to WITNESS is the way they leverage technology to support the work that they do.

Here’s a direct transcript of an email I received from Yvette Alberdingthijm (and, no I can’t pronounce it either) who is the Executive Director at WITNESS.

In difficult economic times, charities suffer more than most. Think about that, and if you think the work WITNESS does is worthwhile, maybe you might consider offering some support.

The email follows:

Here’s an encouraging story about technology and how it can be harnessed to create social change….

While in this case the Hub was one of various things that contributed to the end result, it is an illustration how a video on the Hub can catalyze a campaign for change.

WITNESS has a relatively new partnership in the Middle East with Sisters Arab Forum (SAF) in Yemen, a small but very effective human rights organization that tackles issues like women’s rights and freedom of speech. In June this year, Bukeni Waruzi, our Program Coordinator for Africa conducted a training for SAF, to teach them how to effectively use video in advocacy.

Immediately thereafter, SAF produced its first video: it featured the six year old Eba al-Khaiwani, daughter of a the prominent journalist and newspaper owner Abdel Karim al-Khaiwani, who talks about the day her father was taken from their home and detained by government forces. For the video, please click here.

An outspoken critic of the repressive government and a well known democracy advocate, al-Khaiwani had been arrested and was sentenced to prison for 6 years. The SAF-produced video was uploaded and distributed via the Hub and received much media attention. In conjunction with a broader campaign for al-Khaiwan’s release, it contributed to increased pressure from local and international organizations on the government to release their prisoner, which happened on September 25, 2008.

As an example, and in a funny twist where old media is referring (in print!) to new media, I am hereby enclosing a page from a local Yemini newspaper for your information, that refers to the Hub video.

While there were many contributors to this campaign and we would not claim it as a WITNESS-only success, the video on the Hub made a big difference.

Your contribution to WITNESS has helped directly in bringing this 6 year old’s father home and putting pressure on a government to start behaving better. I can imagine what else we can do if we have the support to multiply these type of campaigns!

Thank You.

All the best,




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