Next week, defeatDD takes Zambia

Jul 05, 2012



Infectious disease isn't the only thing that can go viral these days. Facebook posts and tweets can, too, which makes social media pretty powerful stuff.


At defeatDD, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can harness the potential of social media to raise awareness about the status of diarrhea as a leading killer of kids, share the incredible power of simple solutions, and ultimately, inspire action. PATH recently recognized our work on the defeatDD initiative with the 2012 Vision Award for Innovation, which gave us the opportunity to implement a grant that was limited only by what we could dream up for our program. And dream we did.

We had two objectives in mind: (1) to support the growing social media presence that earned us the award in the first place and (2) to “pay it forward” by sharing what we've learned so far with other interested colleagues. For the first category, we decided on a trip to Zambia to gather stories about many exciting diarrheal disease control efforts and bring them to a social media channel near you. For the second category, we sponsored an essay contest for a PATH Program Assistant to accompany us on our trip as our partner in crime and learn about story-gathering and online communications.

The globe-trotters

Deb and Hope are the fingers behind the keyboard at defeatDD, and Lisa, a Program Assistant in the Vaccine Development Global Program, is our essay contest winner. We're all stoked about sharing this experience together. Here are a few of the reasons we're counting down the hours:

Deb: “I visited Lusaka nine years ago on one of my very first international sojourns. No, I'd never been to Europe, but I was going to Africa! Today, I'm so excited to see what I imagine to be exponential development in Zambia over the past decade—to document the growth and opportunities that development brings, but also the resilient challenges that remain.”

Hope: “It's so fun to take photos of kids in rural areas, some of whom have never seen a camera. They LOVE posing for pictures and always giggle furiously when I show them their photo in the preview window. For this trip, a friend gave me the great idea of taking an instant Polaroid snapshot to leave behind with them. I'm already anticipating their excitement!”

Lisa: “I am really looking forward to connecting with community leaders and organizers, medical personell and members of the broader community, to hear the individual's personal experience and perspective on childhood diarrheal disease and education and prevention messaging found to be the most effective to those individuals.”

We can't be social without you!

We wish we could, but alas we can't buy you all plane tickets to join us in Zambia. But you can still be a part of our trip! Next week, we'll post live updates from the field on Twitter and Facebook, plus some blogs, too.

What would our social media channels be without your feedback? What would you like to hear about next week? What kinds of stories would you like us to capture? Leave us a comment below or share your reactions to our forthcoming field updates! Search #DDZambia to follow our updates on Twitter or tweet us questions.

“See” you next week on Facebook and Twitter!

-- Deb, Hope, and Lisa