“That’s silly, you can’t just start an international holiday.”
I remember those exact words from a colleague after sharing with him that we were going to launch World Slum Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness about the urban slum issue. His main concern? That people just didn’t care. Slums don’t affect their daily lives. Most people only know slums through Hollywood films such as City of God or Slumdog Millionaire; and even with that exposure, most see slums through the same lens they see the rest of global poverty – third world country, really poor people, etc. But what the colleague shared with me is that he doesn’t care because he has no idea what they are. It reminded me of a media piece we did three years ago when we walked around NYC and asked random strangers to define an urban slum:
Last year when we launched World Slum Day, we didn’t achieve earth shattering results. Ellen Degeneres or Jimmy Fallon didn’t tweet out our hashtag. Barack Obama didn’t recognize our campaign. We didn’t have the Kony effect. Rather, we saw everyday individuals step up to the plate, to set up rallies on their college campuses, to fundraise, and to spread the hashtag. By the end of the day, the #worldslumday hashtag was starting to trend, people were asking the big question, “what’s a slum?” and for at least those 24 hours, urban slums were put on the map. Folks began to care – care about this crisis affecting 1 billion people, care about the denial of human rights that plague these communities, and care about the work we’re doing to solve this crisis.
And so, as we approach our 2nd annual World Slum Day officially on April 20, we’re seeking your help. This year’s hashtag is #slumsmatter and we’d love for you to share/retweet our posts that day and also send out your own. We’re going to start the message from the slums and try to spread it across each corner of the globe.
I guess in some ways, what my friend said was true. “You can’t just start an international holiday.” Yea, cuz on holidays you don’t do any work work. Let’s roll up our sleeves, put our nose to the grind and work together to make #slumsmatter.