Stacey Monk shares the story of Tweetsgiving and the Twitter Kids of Tanzania


staceymonk_epicchange_tweetsgiving_socialnerdiaIf you're on Twitter, you've probably heard of Tweetsgiving (which starts today!) and the Twitter Kids of Tanzania. In last night's The Social Nerdia Show! I had an awesome conversation with Stacey Monk, founder of Epic Change, the non-profit organization behind Tweetsgiving that "invests in people with incredible stories". It was easy to see that Stacey's heart is as big as her dreams to make a difference the world.  Her story is quite powerful and so is the story of those that her organization is helping and working with.
Listen to the entire conversation with Stacey on the Flash player below. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes, stream from mobiles on Stitcher, and listen to upcoming shows LIVE on blogtalkradio.


"We believe there are incredible people across the globe that are creating change in their own community; we try to amplify their visibility and impact," explained Stacey about what drives Epic Change. Tweetsgiving was a project that Epic Change "imagined six days before American Thanksgiving in 2008 with six volunteers, and launched only 48 hours before Thanksgiving."

The Tweetsgiving idea was simple: ask people to share about what they were thankful for and ask them to donate to the project if they felt moved to do so. The result was over $10,000 in donations that were invested to build a classroom at a school founded by Tanzanian Epic Change fellow “Mama Lucy” Kamptoni, a woman who used her own money to open up a school that today serves more than 300 kids.

tweetsgiving_twitterkidsoftanzania_socialnerdiaThe Twitter handles of those who made donations were painted in the room so it is no coincidence that Twitter and the "@" symbol have become quite popular in the school in Tanzania. These days, Mama Lucy and the kids have become passionate users of the microblogging platform and you can follow them yourself here. "They do not yet have a library, but they access to a world of information!," Stacey said with much excitement about the kids' access to the internet, which has been made possible thanks to a recently donated Technology Lab.

The goal for Tweetsgiving 2009 is much larger than that of 2008 and Stacey told me that it includes building a library, a cafeteria, and a dorm for the kids in Tanzania.
This year's celebration is about honoring Mama Lucy and all the change makers around the globe who "seldom get thanked or seen or heard." People and volunteers from every continent across the U.S. will get together this week to give thanks and give back.

The power of social media is evident when you realize that it has allowed two very different worlds to meet, communicate, collaborate, and celebrate together. This is only a small examle of what happens when people rally behind a good cause.

Stacey's passion for what she's doing is contagious and her appreciation for the rewards of her work are very clear to her. She explained that "we have just as much to learn from them as we have to offer them; I really do think they have powerful lessons to teach us about hope and even about things like efficiency."

Stacey, who has worked in management and IT consulting in the past, decided to focus her time and efforts to something worthwhile only a couple of years ago. It was a trip to Africa in 2007 that motivated her to focus her attention on creating sustainable change. Her dream for Epic Change is "to be able to continue to do this work and discover amazing change makers like Mama Lucy to invest in them so they can realize their vision of transforming their communities."

The whole idea of community is changing and more than ever before we have the technology to speak to one another not as demographics and psychographics, but as people. As Stacey emphasized, "it's a very different conversation when we stop talking about peoples' poverty and we start talking to them as human beings."

"What if we know Gideon (one of the kids in Tanzania) because he's Tweeting and Tumbling, just like we know Johnny who lives across the street?," Stacey wondered out loud. The world is flattening and feeling smaller. The internet has truly made it possible for people to have opportunities they would not have otherwise. I would not be surprised if some of the Twitter Kids of Tanzania get involved with content production, media, design web development,  or who knows, maybe even social media consulting. The opportunities are endless and anyone is able to help create positive change where change is much needed and much appreciated.

tweetsgiving_socialnerdiaThis thanksgiving, I'm thankful for changemakers and Stacey Monk is certainly one of them. Make sure to check out www.tweetgiving.org an follow the #tweetsgiving meme on Twitter.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.