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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Million Souls Aware Site

21-year old Yvo Schaap from Netherlands created a new website with an interesting idea. At – designed and programmed by Yvo – he focuses on one topic a time which he thinks deserves global attention. At this time, that’s the topic of refugee camps. Now whenever someone visits the site and spends a couple of seconds to read the content (Yvo is checking against IP addresses to better ensure these are unique readers), the green “aware soul” counter at the right side is increased by one. If a million readers have been reached, Yvo will go on to raise awareness on the next topic.

The site is hosted on an .org domain, which theoretically means it’s non-commercial. In practice, many webmasters ignore this and create commercial sites on .org domains. Not so this time, as Yvo tells me that he’ll never run ads on the site (even though he’s paying for a dedicated server). “People start projects online to make money. I’ve already had my success in one project online. This time I wanted to give something back: spend time in a not for profit project, and using my skills to make it successful.”

Currently, the topic refugee camps received 173 of 1,000,000 visitors. (That’s a long way to go, and I’m curious if it works out.) Yvo, who visualizes the topic by the use of the Google Maps API, on the issue writes:

According to the 2006 World Refugee survey conducted annually by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), a staggering 33 million people worldwide are currently uprooted from their homes. Of that number, 12 million are refugees and asylum seekers living in camps in countries other than their own, and 21 million are Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), an official designation for civilians displaced by persecution, armed conflict or widespread violence. They do not fall under the official category of a “refugee” because they remain inside their own countries, but their plight is just as dire. (...)

When people flee their homesteads, they leave behind most of their belongings. Sometimes they manage to grab a few basics, but most of the time they are just happy to escape with their lives intact. They usually end up with thousands of others in a settlement that can stretch for miles. This is a refugee camp, a place that not one of us would willingly choose to inhabit.

If you too think this is an issue, how can you donate to the site? You can donate a link from your blog. Yvo says, “If many blogs ... work together we would reach the goal of a million souls aware in no time.”


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