When the American Refugee Committee first set out to become Alight, we knew we needed not just our voices, but the voices of others to help us unleash the kind of abundance we believe exists in the world. We needed our stakeholders, our partners, our supporters. But, most importantly, we needed the voices of the people we’re here for—refugees and displaced people—in order to truly be human-centered and grounded in the lives of those we serve.
From hundreds of conversations with people on the move, our global teams around the world, our partners, and our supporters, seven guiding values emerged, values that united us all. They were there before, acting as sign posts that drove our decisions and way of work. But now, we gave them a name. And in so doing, they’ve only united us further, allowing us to examine each as we become Alight, together.
As we navigate the impact of coronavirus on all our lives, these values are more important than ever. Despite the uncertainty, we Choose Optimism. When things feel impossible, we Do the Doable. And when the crisis threatens to define our actions, we remember to Be Human Centered, grounding our work in the idea that the people we serve are not numbers, but contain whole universes.
We also Find Others.
Finding Others means that we are a “we” organization, a shared organization. We believe that our strength is in our together-ness. In our borderlessness. In our openness and belief in one another.
This begins with humility—to know that we don’t, we can’t, have all the answers. We need each other. So we find others. We seek diversity and include those who know better than we do. We make the room bigger. We seek out people’s input, no matter who they are. We open the door.
Finding Others During COVID-19
During these difficult times, Finding Others is as important as ever. And, it has guided the way we approach our response to the coronavirus pandemic—because we know we can’t do this alone.
From bringing influencers on board for our #InOurHands campaign, to finding organizations already on the ground and doing amazing work, to convening hundreds of Catholic Sisters around the world to fight COVID-19 where they are, it’s all about channeling the abundance and goodwill of others, as we confront coronavirus together.
With a Little Help from Our Friends
One of the biggest challenges during this time is making sure that accurate, helpful information is getting into the hands of people who need it most. We know through Kuja Kuja, our customer service platform, that the number one thing refugees and displaced people we serve are asking for is information about the coronavirus. They want reliable information on how it’s spread, what the symptoms are, and what they should be doing to prevent it.
In rapid response, Alight and IDEO.org worked to develop a set of key messages, communications materials, and a strategic campaign aimed at busting myths, providing trusted information, and ensuring that COVID-19 is recognized as a serious concern for those in East Africa and beyond. The result was the In Our Hands campaign.
We wanted this health messaging to reach as many people as possible, all across the globe. But we knew we couldn’t do it alone. That’s where we needed to find others—and quickly.
We reached out to social media influencers, neighbors, friends, and supporters…and the result was incredible. People from around the world have been joining in to share messages with their networks and communities to protect and keep them safe.
Millions of messages of solidarity and unity are stretching from #inourhands across the globe—from Pakistan to Kenya, Tanzania to the U.S. The campaign content is now available in 47 languages, including Tagalog, Arabic, Swahili, Urdu, French, Hindi, and more.
Catholic Sisters in Zambia took to the airwaves to broadcast #InOurHands content to local audiences with an estimated reach of 1.5 million listeners. In Pakistan, the Alight team launched a nationwide social media campaign, getting TV and radio personalities, athletes, and community leaders on board to spread the message. In Southeast Asia, through tools like Facebook and WhatsApp, #InOurHands has reached another 1.5 million.
In Tanzania, nine social media celebrities and influencers from various industries—many of whom are part of the #InOurHands campaign—came together to produce a “Barakoa Challenge” video. The Barakoa Challenge, meaning “Mask Challenge” in Swahili, depicts the influencers choosing to wear masks and alternative face coverings as a protective measure to reduce the spread of germs while asking their communities to do the same. The video has since been viewed 900K+ times on Instagram alone, it has been featured on national TZ television and radio stations, and it was retweeted by the Tanzanian Minister of Health, Ummy Mwalimu.
In total, #InOurHands has reached an incredible 100 million people in 86 countries—and counting! And it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of so many influencers, leaders, and supporters around the world who stepped up to spread the word. It’s been a humbling lesson in the power of finding others. Of allowing people in to get the message out. There are so many people around the world who want to help combat coronavirus. With #InOurHands, everyone can play a role.
You Can Help Refugees Worldwide! It’s #InOurHands.
You can be a part of #InOurHands, too! Join the movement of millions of people around the world on the frontlines of coronavirus prevention and response.
Here are some things you can do:
1) Write a Message of Love or Encouragement on Your Palm
– Take a selfie showing both your face and your palm with the message.
– Add the hashtag #InOurHands
– Share it on social media and tag 5 friends to do the same!
– Remember to tag Alight, too! (On Instagram @we.are.alight; On Facebook @wearealight; and on Twitter @we_are_alight)
2) Help Your Friends Protect Themselves
– Find our health messages in your preferred language here and download the social media folder
– Pick your favorite(s)—the information you think your community needs most. And post them on social media with the hashtag #inourhands
– Tag Alight, too. We’d love to see what you’re sharing!
3) Support Alight’s Global COVID Response
– You can make a donation to help us spread these messages and to help communities from Darfur to San Salvador weather Covid-19.