Avaaz Helps Throw A ‘Lifeline’ To Elephants

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted recently to ban the trade of ivory as an import and re-export product. The move was called “historic” and promised to be a massive blow against the illicit world trade of ivory. The action has also been called a “lifeline to elephants” who are poached and killed for their tusks.

Achieving this goal for the elephant required massive social and political effort. One group highly instrumental in the ground-breaking ivory ban was Avaaz, an international, online social activist group founded in the United States in 2007.

Avaaz took out a full-page advertisement in the Oriental Daily News to urge Hong Kong legislators to quash the Chinese ivory market. The ad was also sent individually to each lawmaker on the committee handling the issue.

But Avaaz brought even more to the ivory issue. A petition of more than one million names was collected globally. Protest marches were organized in the streets of Hong Kong. It’s all in a day’s work for Avaaz which has mastered the art of getting millions of people organized to take action to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

The name Avaaz is derived from the Sanskrit meaning of “voice.” That name was chosen because it represents the central tactic of Avaaz – it gives voice to ordinary people and the average citizen. It empowers good people to fight against powerful forces doing bad things in the world.

Avaaz uses the power of the Internet to make it easy for people to sign-up, join, organize, network and strategize together on issues which they feel need to be addressed. Avaaz raises funds using a grassroots model, accepting only small donations mostly from individual donors. It accepts no corporate cash or large chunks of money from greedy, self-serving billionaires.

There is virtually no limit on the kinds of issue Avaaz operators tackle. Poverty programs, efforts to clean plastics from the oceans, establishing wildlife reserves, helping refugees flee war-ravaged nations, fighting for freedom of the press, promoting educational programs for disadvantaged people, and bringing aid and comfort to the politically oppressed are just a few examples of what Avaaz does every day.

Since Avaaz became active in 2007, some 50 million people have joined the organization in a relentless effort to make the world a better place. The recent victory represented by the Hong Kong ivory ban is a classic example of how Avaaz gets solid results.

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