Meet the blogger on a social media mission to save the people of Niger
SOCIAL media savvy and with a following of thousands it is hardly surprising that World Vision chose Sian To to raise awareness of the plight of people in Niger.
The Slawston resident was previously picked to be an ambassador for Save The Children and last week she was tweeting and posting from Niger.
While there the posts, pictures and videos Mrs To was uploading caused a storm back home.
The Twitter hashtag #ShareNiger reached more than two million people on Twitter before her plane had even landed and since arriving back Mrs To has been appearing on local, national and international news programmes.
Yesterday morning (Wednesday) Mrs To said a friend tweeted her to say that she had just seen her appear on Japanese CNN.
Mrs To was sent to Niger because child marriage, child labour and malnutrition are serious problems there.
It is hoped that through her tweets and two blogs people will be moved to act to help the people of Niger.
Mrs To, speaking about her trip last week, said: “It was pretty harrowing. Niger is so far out of your realm of consciousness living outside this rich green countryside of Market Harborough.
“It is burning hot, it is dusty, it is 50 degrees hot and you can’t imagine how people live in the heat.”
One post that stands out because of its sheer simplicity is one entitled 20 Goats that contains just one picture and one sentence.
The post is about a girl called Fatima, age 13 who was sold into marriage for the sum of 20 goats.
Mrs To however explains that there was a positive outcome for Fatima. A state child protection director rescued her from the marriage.
Mrs To said: “She was saved by an amazing woman, also caused Fatima. She has made it her life mission to save these kids and she is amazing.
“When she finds out about young marriages she demands an annulment.”
Although child marriage is a serious concern in Niger, with 37 per cent of girls being married off before the age of 15, Mrs To said that it is an issue that people there are reluctant to talk about.
Mrs To said they are more willing to talk about the issue of female circumcision than they are about child marriage.
“People do not want to talk about child marriage. Some of the top high up people will have child brides but this is affecting girls aged seven.”
The other issue that was highlighted to Mrs To while she was over in Niger was the food crisis.
While at a clinic in Niger she met one woman who had journeyed 20km to bring her son for treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
Mrs To said despite walking 40km in a day his mother would have no food herself because that day she was unable to sell fire wood which she usually gathers herself.
While in Niger Mrs To visited a government decommissioned gold mine where people come to find work.
She said: “The gold mine is the most shocking place - 13 and 14 year old girls are there dagging buckets of rocks.”
Although the work is tireless and dangerous, Mrs To said it is rare that the workers find any gold.
While out in Niger Mrs To uploaded stories of the lives of the people of Niger and now back home she is urging people here to help them.
She said: “We can ask people to donate 50p. Even though it seems such a minute amount if enough people do it it helps, every little helps.”
To donate to World Vision’s appeal and help people like Fatima go to www.worldvision.org.uk
Follow Sian on Twitter @Geekisnewchic
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Weather for Market Harborough
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North