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The Birth of a Nation—#Welcome193, South Sudan

In just a few days, people across the U.S. will celebrate 4th of July with fireworks, barbeques, parades, picnics, baseball games, and everything else that comes with this holiday. As an American whose known freedom my entire life, I can’t help but feel excitement for South Sudan. After decades of war and conflict, millions of lives lost, and millions displaced, the people of South Sudan will finally celebrate their first independence day on July 9th, 2011.

Back in April, we had the opportunity to meet Ariel Muller of the Helsinki Group. Ariel and her team of communication professionals have formed a volunteer effort to welcome South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations and to help raise awareness of the country’s critical need for an improved infrastructure, which has been deeply weakened from years of neglect and conflict. Its crippling health system, for example, lacks any kind of infrastructure with less than 20 percent of all children are vaccinated against routine diseases such as tetanus and measles and nearly 90 percent of expectant women deliver at home without any assistance from a trained midwife or doctor.

 

Joining the United Nations is a huge feat and we as a society can help create positive change for South Sudan by welcoming them and helping people understand the considerable challenges ahead and act in global alliance to build for a better future. We all know the power of social media—how it connects people around the globe in ways we never imagined possible, how quickly a single tweet spreads, and how a catchy video can go viral in a matter of hours. The Helsinki group is leveraging social media to educate, engage and build support among online communities, especially those passionate about the long-term stability of the region.

On July 9th, I invite you to join in this rare global opportunity to use social media for social good. Show your support in welcoming the people of South Sudan by joining on Facebook, and by tweeting “#Welcome193!” (don’t forget to include the hash tag).  We will also monitor the welcome messages on Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts within a 24-hour period (ending at midnight on July 10th) so don’t forget to take one of these actions, and tell your friends to join in this worldwide act of support for the people of South Sudan. Imagine if you told a handful of people, and they tell another handful of people, and so on, and so forth? That’s the power of social media!

President Barack Obama and our government — along with the international community as a whole — need to continue to be thoroughly committed to promoting lasting peace, a necessary foundation for progress. We as passionate individuals and global alliances can also support our distant neighbors in their time of need.

I’ll be reporting some of the results on this blog, so be sure to check back the week of July 11th. I plan on taking 5 seconds to welcome South Sudan on Saturday, July 9th, I hope you will too.

Also, for those of you interested in hearing more about the group’s effort to help inform and build awareness for South Sudan also check out the website.

Cheers!

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