Introducing: Hello South Asians
Nandini, Serene and Ravina are three proud South Asian best friends from different parts of the world united by one common goal: forging solidarity among South Asians across the world, especially in times of global discord. Continue reading to find out what motivated them to take action, and how they got started with the 'Hello South Asians!' project.
By Nandini, Serene and Ravina, founders of Hello South Asians.
Identifying the Problem
Despite living in three different parts of the world, we all identified one common issue: South Asian families, parents, and youth were not getting correct information about the COVID-19 pandemic. This has manifested into many negative effects in our communities across the globe, including mental health issues and panic attacks, discrimination between South Asian community members and neighbors, and inadvertently making the job and responsibilities of public health workers more difficult in a multitude of ways. With many South Asian families on social media and messaging platforms (such as Whatsapp group chats) increasingly sharing contradictory and inaccurate information, we saw this as a major threat to public health systems and the mental health of South Asians globally in the near future.
South Asians are remarkably diverse worldwide in every sense of the word - technologically, linguistically, culturally, socially, but often live in shared, communal areas. This means that any misinformation has intensified and echoed negative effects throughout communities. Without first having accurate information in the language of a community, our world can’t address the myriad of issues related to the pandemic we are now seeing. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and as such, neither should access to information about it. So, with millions of South Asian families susceptible to misleading public health instruction, we committed to disseminating accurate and evidence-based information through digital advocacy and local grassroots networks.
To do so, we developed interactive infographics in over 20 languages widely spoken by South Asians worldwide. We also created over 100 shareable creative assets for easy printing in areas without widespread technology, but which can also be distributed on all major social media channels. The languages included are as follows: Arabic, Assamese, Balochi, Bangla, English, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.
While these languages do not represent all South Asian linguistic diversity and breadth, we plan to continue adding languages and make other changes, to help this project reach more of our communities, and would love your support!
We welcome any individuals or organizations who are interested in helping us become even more inclusive - an element critical to our mission and vision. All infographics have been prepared with the guidance and advice of reliable sources like the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and others. Individuals who have helped out include medical professionals, trained journalists, doctors, policy analysts, and public health experts.
We are also so grateful to all the students from across 53 countries who have helped translate the documents to their native tongues. Our goal with these infographics is to make accurate information from reliable sources go viral in our South Asian communication streams.
We are currently developing an Ambassador Program for young people around the world to get involved in the project from the comfort of their homes. Armed with the accessible material made by Hello South Asians and our team of translators, the Ambassadors will be tasked to ensure the safe and effective delivery of this information in their various communities. This will require creativity and a diverse range of solutions to ensure those who cannot access the internet regularly and/or do not understand English can receive the necessary information to keep safe and stay positive in this difficult time.
Co-founder Nandini Kochar states: “The growing issue of misinformation and misleading journalism can have grave effects on all of us, especially communities with little to no access to reliable sources of public health information. This is precisely the gap we are trying to fill - creatively and digitally. Through evidence-based and culturally-relevant information, we are aiming to reach every region, village, household, and Whatsapp group in South Asia.”
To learn more about Hello South Asians and how you can support them with additional South Asian language translations or other content to challenge misinformation and promote positive mental health and curate factual information across our diaspora in this challenging time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published: June 2020
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