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Hashtag and compassion help get 1 million litres of water to drought-stricken areas

Two weeks ago, a group of volunteers rallied together to answer a call to assist with supplying water in drought-stricken Senekal in the Free State. What followed shortly after was a campaign, accompanied by a hashtag and responses that went far beyond the organisers’ expectation.

#OperationHydrate began with Joburg businessman, Yaseen Theba, who reached out to Lead SA co-founder Yusuf Ambramjee and others to assist the residents in a community deeply affected by last year’s drought, one that had driven some to even resort to drinking sewerage water.

Scores of volunteers were deployed to Senekal and South Africans were encouraged via the #OperationHydrate hashtag to donate water or financial aid to the cause. Word soon spread across the country and the campaign has since grown in leaps and bounds.

“Water is life. The call for assistance drove everyone,” Abramjee told htxt.africa. “The role social media played is massive. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram drove it from day one. A WhatsApp group was started by the volunteers and that’s also how it grew.”

“We cannot sit idly by and watch our fellow South Africans die of thirst. As civil society we have the power to make a difference and help those in need when we unite around a common cause such as this,” Theba said in a statement.

Soon after inception, #OperationHydrate had set a target of delivering one million litres of water and expanded to other towns in the Free State and Eastern Cape, providing water to homes, hospitals, clinics and pre-schools.

Millions of rands in donations have also been raised so far. In the Pretoria area, around R300 000 was raised by Laudium Disaster Management in just a few hours.

Corporate sponsors such as Mango Airlines and Shoprite and NGOs including Gift of the Givers, also came on board to lend a helping hand.

“People have been queuing for drinking water. The joy on the faces of those who have been receiving drinking water is remarkable and most humbling. Many have not had water for weeks,” Theba added.

Seeing as #OperationHydrate has already reached its one million litre target, it’s now set a new one of two million, which Theba is confident they will reach within a week.

“By Sunday, she should be on 1,5m litres and we are confident of having distributed two million litres within seven days,”  he said.

[Images – supplied]

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