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Has Twitter Ever Struck You as a Wellspring of #Compassion ? #WATWB #RebuildKerala

By 31/08/2018September 12th, 2018We are the World

Daily (w)rite went on an involuntary hiatus: continued adverse personal situations made it impossible to blog, but let’s not dwell on that. On to more important questions.

Has Twitter ever struck you as a wellspring of compassion and humanity?

Me neither, but bear with me here.

More than 800,000 people were affected in the devastating floods that hit Kerala, South India, in the past weeks, and like a lot of other people, I was tweeting about it.

I’d donated (here and here, if you’d like to pitch in, as well), but from my study in Singapore, there wasn’t much else I could do, right? Wrong.

A very kind super-tech-whiz picked up on my tweets and introduced me to the team at : a group of super-smart folk located in all kinds of time zones, who with their IT savvy and connections on the ground had managed to create an updated database of resources to meet the needs on the ground.

twitter Kerala Flood rescue

The KeralaFloodRescue team from all over the world. Click on the picture to find the places everyone hails from.

The Google Map by Kerala Flood Rescue team twitter

The Google Map by Kerala Flood Rescue team

For more than a dizzy week, I was part of the team—working to coordinate needs of blood, grains, sanitary products, toilets, cattle feed—you name it. It was exhausting but exhilarating work—and you can see evidence of it on my twitter feed. We found resources on twitter via other kind and knowledgeable tweeps: transport, water, school supplies— it all stunned me the first day because I’d never imagined social media could have a potential for SO much good.

My teammates ( some of them here)  were kind with their help when I couldn’t work with excel sheets, or messed up numbers; patient when I didn’t understand Malayalam. They were untiring in their drive to find a supplier for a need as it when it came up, courteous with suppliers, stoic over unpleasant phone calls to various stakeholders–cheerful ALL the time, even when they juggled volunteering with their day jobs, and spent sleepless nights maintaining the site.

I’ve had personal challenges for a while, but all my sadness vanished around these people, united by no other agenda than the desire to help faceless strangers far away. For the last week, I’ve been wanting to shout from the rooftops: BEHOLD, THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD–and they’re making a difference!

So, here I am, shouting it out.

The Kerala flood brought a lot of heroes in its wake, known and unknown.

To me, this team, as a single organism, was a Superhero: working hours across time zones to ensure that the flow of information remained unwavering, constant. We had 4 million hits on the site in about 10 days–with people from all walks of life searching for information about the flood affected areas, and using it to coordinate their efforts on the ground.

I haven’t met the other team members, and not even spoken to some of those working behind the scenes. I probably will never get to meet them—but I’m fortunate I got to be part of so much brilliance and compassion.

Here’s a bit about the team’s effort in the news:

“The group received heartening messages from the affected people. “There was this man from the US who was able to assign a volunteer using our resources to rescue his pregnant wife,” says Vipin.“He even donated 1,000 dollars to the CM’s Distress Relief Fund as a token of gratitude.”

Shout outs and bows to this wonderful team–may they live long and well, and may I continue to have their friendship.

What beautiful instance of humanity have you seen lately, online or in real life? Have you seen people coming together to do good–where and when? What has your experience on twitter been like–have you seen more love or hate?

If you had a way of talking to team #KeralaFloodRescue , what would you say?

This post was the 16th installment of the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post Fvourite Placethe last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

The co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa GargBelinda Witzenhausen, Sylvia Stein, Simon Falk, and Andrea Michaels.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of September 28, 2018!

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have posts delivered to your inbox: SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL , please.


Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Vinitha says:

    Kerala flood rescue showed what compassion meant to the world. All the social media channels were used for the rescue mission from people all over the world and it was such a heartwarming sight to see the positivity. You have done a wonderful job, Damyanti! 🙂

  • Parul Thakur says:

    Wow! that is so amazing and inspiring. So good that you were able to be a part of this. There are a lot of good people who do a lot of good work. The challenge is we don’t get to know or things get lost in chatter. I am glad you brought this up.
    If I were to tell something to these new friends of yours, I would let them that they are friends of humanity. I wish their tribe grows. And that it grows beyond borders, language, religion, race or gender.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I’m just lucky I got to be a part of all this–you’re right, the goodness gets lost in all the clutter, which is why we started the WATWB.

      It does us good at least once a month to look for good news in the social media and the trad media outlets–brings about a change in perspective.

      My new friends would be pleased with your message, thankyou!

  • Shalzmojo says:

    Oh this is awesome to read about Damyanti and Kudos to you and the team for doing such selfless work. Thank you for sharing and I will join you in shouting from the rooftops!! We need more such news of goodness in the world

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Join us in WATWB, Shalini–we have so many pieces of good news posted this month, if you just check the hashtag on twitter:).

      The team does deserve some serious appreciation for the work done–I was only the twitter bot throughout.

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    You are amazing!!! As are the people on your team and so many others.
    I donated to the relief effort as well – the flooding is devastating. There are so many people in need – it’s wonderful to be able to help out in some way

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thank you so much for the donation! The rebuilding of Kerala will take all the help it can get. I’m no more amazing than anyone else, really, but the team was magical in the way everyone gave of themselves so unstintingly. It was indeed wonderful to be able to help out from such a distance, with no special talent.

  • bikerchick57 says:

    Damyanti, what you and many other people did was borne out of kindness and the understanding that human lives and compassion for their situation is more important than anything else. I applaud you and all who are involved in the relief effort to save lives and rebuild this part of India. <3

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Mary–the applause goes to the team, and not me.

      I think people really came together in a time of crisis, and that was heartening.

  • Erika Beebe says:

    Being part of a group and initiative to help when others need it most is really invigorating for the soul. I do believe social media can be positive. It’s all in what we choose to see and the messages we choose to send out. I try to surround myself with helping people. I do my best to help when I can. I work in a public school district and there’s always an organization pulling together for the greater good of those children or people who really need extra help. IT’s all out there. I’m happy you found a way to help too 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for all the you do, Erika, and for dropping by. I’m glad I found a way, too.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    What an amazing work the team has done! Kudos to you too.
    Kerala Floods brought us amazing stories of humanity and kindness. It still gives me goosebumps when I read about them. And I came across them mostly in twitter.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Rajlakshmi, yes twitter was definitely a repository of positivity during Kerala Floods. I’m sure there was hate too, but I was too busy to notice any of it.

      It was an amazing team I worked with, and all kudos go to the team, really.

  • I’m glad you’re back up and running. Stay safe.

  • Indira says:

    So true, dear. There were, are and always be good, helping people all around the world. Humanity never dies. Kudos for your good work. Best wishes.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Indira, for your wishes. The thanks for the good work go to the team, really–I was only a tiny part of it. The real work was keeping the site up and running despite all odds, and I had no part in that 🙂

  • What an uplifting post, Damyanti. There are wonderful and generous people everywhere if we only look. The people who are engaged in helping the flood victims are angels, you among them.

    • Thanks, Diana. I was more of a tweet bot than an angel, but was very happy to play my part. I wish I could do more, but at the very least, I did the best I could :).

      The flood survivors are moving back to their lives–let us hope we can give them the support they need.

  • Its all about the right and effective usage of social media. My heart swelled with happiness and pride to see our countrymen coming forward and helping each other in the testing time, regardless of their Gods. I had the same feelings as yours sitting miles away from my country but spreading the word is the least we can do. Thanks for writing this wonderful post and showcasing Twitter in positive light.

    • Vartika– I realised that what I had always believed was true: social media can be a force for the good if it is used via the right people, with the right intent, and at the right time.

  • That is wonderful. I would never imagined that could happen. I thought Twitter was limited to #savetheworld sort of events. Good on you, Damyanti!

    • Me neither, Jacqui–sometimes it still seems unreal that good things happened via twitter, but they did. I was part of an incredibly efficient and generous team.

  • Eliza says:

    This really touched me….
    I love your watwb idea…. it’s awesome. Thank you!

  • shanayatales says:

    I loved how people rallied around each other, and really pitched in to offer help and support in whichever way they could. Which is why, even though social media comes with its share of evils, there are many times (especially during such disasters) that it proves to be an invaluable tool which can save a lot of lives (quite literally).

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Oh, absolutely agree. Many lives were saved during the Kerala Floods because of social media.

  • Shailaja V says:

    Every social media channel has the power to do good. Most of us don’t use it effectively, that’s all 🙂
    I love how you showed Twitter in a positive light. It’s one of those places that gets a bad rap because of all the consistent flow of negativity. I’m thrilled that you were able to do so much, while being far away from India.

    And you’re right. There is compassion everywhere, even on social media. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Agree that social media channels are what you make of them.

      I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to help, in whatever small way I could.

      And if possible, in future I’d like to help in a similar way wherever needed in the world.

  • Two things about people from Kerala. You can find them all over the world and those markers don’t show the total distribution of my friends from Kerala. Second they have per head of population the highest literacy rate and educational achievement in India as a people. And they do rise to the occasion when tragedy strikes. I’ve travelled up and down the state many times over the 20 years I spent in that part of the world and am most distressed to see the damage marring the country and its people.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Ian, agree with you on all counts.

      I have never been to Kerala beyond Kochi (though it is on my bucket list) but the devastation is heartbreaking.

      Assam in India is also going through floods right now, and the scenes from there are also agonizing.

      That’s the thing about being open to the internet–after my long forced hiatus, all the disasters in the world are here on my TL.

      I wish I could do more.

  • BellyBytes says:

    Social Media had played an invaluable part in rescue operations in Kerala. My school WhatsApp group came to the help of my friend who was stranded on his cupboard for 4 days and was given a free power pump to help clean up ( via the same WA group) . Kudos to you for helping out from so far away!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s amazing that you could help your friend who was in such dire straits!

      Technology was really used very positively during this disaster.

      I just did what I could–it was more of a privilege to be able to do anything at all from so far away.

  • pythoroshan says:

    Haha… Quite a unique turn of events here because there are so many days i need to actively turn away from twitter because it clinically depresses me these days reading the targeted harassing good people are subjected to. I wish it were just 1 % of the people as some say but it really isn’t.

    But yes, through it, I was happy to watch how so many rallied to help during Kerala floods.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It is sad to see good people being harassed, but there are good people on twitter, as on anywhere in the world.

      My whole idea is to stay away from the hatred, quietly report it, and move on. I try and actively seek out good people on there–and you’re one of them, Doc.

  • Holly J says:

    I only wish it didn’t take disasters to bring out the hero in us all, and to lift us from our own doldrums by pointing out that there are many suffering more dire straits. But this is wonderful – it is quite a challenge to pull such efforts together so quickly, and with good hearts and good cheer and no devolving into disagreements that cause good efforts to stall out. And I am so glad that they found you and you found them – it sounds like just what you ALL needed, at just the right time!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      “good hearts and good cheer and no devolving into disagreements” is exactly how I would describe this group.

      The hero in us all comes out not just in disasters, but also in quiet ways, Holly.

      There a gazillion good people in this world being heroic in their own small ways every single day.

      We just need to pay attention to them, instead of the hordes of entertainers and celebrities who hold most of it :).

  • You and the group really jumped in! That’s amazing to coordinate all of that through Twitter.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I got to join the group pretty late, but yeah, we all did jump in. Good to see you Alex. Will visit all your posts I missed this past week.

  • Miss Andi says:

    What an amazing team, you included! Just shows that distance cannot stop us from doing good. Thank you for showing that with all that you do!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Distance is indeed no barrier in a connected world–thanks for all you do with WATWB, Andrea. Really appreciate you co-hosting this month.

  • DJ Cockburn says:

    All respect to you for giving your time. I don’t know about Twitter, but I do find that the internet is a place where you tend to find what you’re looking for, and find yourself surrounded by what you went looking for whether you realise you were looking for it or not. I presume Twitter is the same in microcosm?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      My time was the least I could have given, and I hope it made some difference on the ground. You’re right about Twitter being a mincrocosm version of the internet. There are so many people spilling so much hatred, but there’s also a World of good.

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    That was wonderful of you Damyanti, to pitch in. I feel it is at such times that we all put aside our differences and come together for a higher goal. And, that is what instils the belief that there is some good still left in our world.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      There is a lot of good in this world, and it definitely outweighs the bad. We tend to think there’s a lot of bad but little good, because the bad makes for clickbait news.

      It was wonderful to be invited to pitch in, and I loved every bit of it!

  • PA Pundits - International says:

    Thank you for this article. Very informative.

  • ccyager says:

    Love seeing stories about technology being used to accomplish something good and helpful. Thanks for getting involved with this group and then sharing your experience. Hope that the boost you got from this experience will help see you through all the rest in life. Thoughts are with you!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I certainly got a boost from the experience, and will cherish it. Good to see you, Cinda, and hope all is well with you 🙂

  • You did an amazing job, Damyanti. So proud to call you friend! ♥

    • I did very little, Corrine. But this is what friends are for: to be biased, and to love us, so thankyou, and a big fat hug!

      You’re the sort of person I want to be: steadfast even when in distress, and a person who brings other people together. You and the Write Tribe are an inspiration.

  • Anagha Yatin says:

    Helping others always brings the bliss to heart. I could see your earnest efforts on twitter and whats app groups to extend the hand of help for Kerala flood victims. Kudos to you for keeping aside your personal woes and contributing to the noble cause. World definitely has good Samaritans.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Anagha, thanks, but I did very little–I was certainly more visible because I was on Twitter, but it was the #KeralaFloodRescue team that was doing all the work, really.

      The entire experience was a blessing for me, and this post was just about my gratitude.

  • pjlazos says:

    Thank you, Damyanti, and I hope your personal situation improves soon. oxo

  • I retweeted many of your tweets damyanti..people always come forward and chip in with whatever they can in such’s heartening to see technology and compassion helping people in need.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the RTs, Anshu!

      It really was heartening to see technology and social media used as a force for good.

  • I saw your tweets, re tweeted them and continued working towards helping the volunteers involved in the cause. The virtual world, when used responsibly can be a medium of change and compassion.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the RTs–we got some very good resources and responses on twitter thanks to kind souls like you!

      The KeralaFloodRescue team used social media and technology as tools for compassion, and I can’t praise the team enough for it.

      I’ve always believed twitter or FB is like a knife or a hammer, the result depends on the user’s skill, power, and intent. 🙂

      Thankyou for visiting this blog, and your support on twitter.

  • Peter Nena says:

    I saw what you were doing on Twitter. Human strength, compassion, love come out more strongly in disaster. Like you said, there are surely more good people in the world than bad. The flood was a dark moment but it brought forth a bright, undiminishing light from people. Nothing is more heartwarming than to see people from different corners of the world, different cultures, different backgrounds, all working together for a common good. Thank you for everything you did.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I was merely the twitter bot for the group–all the real work happened at the back-end, which I’m in awe of.

      Will always cherish having worked with this team.

      Thanks for your support, as always, Peter–you’ve been such a good friend to me, and this blog, over the years.

  • simonfalk28 says:

    The selfless toil of compassion by the #KeralaFloodRescue team is truly exemplary for us all, Damyanti. I think their magnanimous service is even deeper than super heroes, as super heroes can often draw on otherworldly superior strengths and become lone heroes on some higher plane. Whereas the Kerala Team are people from and supportive of their own human brothers and sisters and are clearly not alone, but a team of good people, not superior to others, simply generous and big hearted in genuine way.
    I also think that the actions of this beautiful Kerala outreach demonstrates what you have tried to model for some time. That is, that we can make social media shape us, or, by our content, our care and our witness, we can make social media a source and space of goodness, justice, care and peace. For that reason, this story runs to the very core of #WATWB. For this our thanks are great.
    As Aragorn said to the Hobbits in ‘The Return of the King’, so we can say to you and the Kerala Team: “My friends, you bow to no one.” As their sacrifice has changed lives.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      The team is definitely big-hearted, as I’ve seen time and again.

      You all have made WATWB what it is, Simon, I’ve been too poor a cohost recently to take any of the credit–but yes, I do believe in what you said–that social media are just avenues of expression, they will be filled with what we feel and say: if we have love, compassion, hope–then that is what social media will be all about.

      I’ve only ever met good people on social media and this blog, because those are the people, and the kind of energy I seek. Of course there’s hate, and I report it when I see it ( and the FB and Twitter authorities take action, on occasion). I met you via this blog, as well.

      Thanks for being so kind always–and your words for the KeralaFloodRescue team. The team truly is exemplary.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – we continue to find out about the goodness in our lives … and how we can help through blogfests like this one you and your friends set up. This Kerala flood rescue is quite amazing to read about – I’d love to be involved in something like this sometime …( perhaps) I’ll get there at some stage. So very good to read about … and Kerala suffered terribly – just devastating to read about … I sincerely hope things will improve for them … thanks for highlighting this. Cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for all you do for the WATWB blogfest, Hilary. Your blogging has always been a force for good.

      I hope that Kerala rebounds soon, too. The devastation was extensive, but so are the rebuilding efforts now.

  • Ramya says:

    That’s amazing.. I didn’t think that twitter can have much impact even though I was tweeting with hope about resources for Kerala floods.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      When I became part of the team and looked at the database for the first time, I couldn’t believe it either.

      It wasn’t twitter alone: also FB and Whatsapp: but twitter definitely was where I got to help and see others help, as well.

      This team had tremendous tech-savvy to be able to build and host such a website. For me, I was thrilled to be a foot soldier who got to use social media to participate in some good!

  • Wow! What an amazing group of people, your lovely self included. Shameful that there was not one person from Australia.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It is an amazing group of people.

      It grew organically, so it was only a coincidence that there was no one from Australia. Some of the most compassionate people I know are Australians, including Simon, who is cohosting WATWB this month:)

  • Susan Scott says:

    What would I say to the team #KaralaFloodRescue? I would say you are all super heroes! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You give us hope by displaying kindness and combined with tech savvy means, this is a winning combination!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s exactly what I said to the team. I was honoured to be working with them, and learned so much from the experience.

  • Hi- thank you for the information on Kerala. I had not heard of the flood. I do want to say I am overwhelmed by compassion on social media especially FB and Twitter. Requests for prayers for families, those that are hurting, lost children to death or the missing, for those who have served. Requests and answers for GoFundMe for those who are not politically inclined but those in need, in the US and globally. People answer the calls without expecting anything back. It is heartening + information is shared around the world through social media. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Social media brings us what we seek. I’m moved by appeals for help as well, and do try and help however I can.