Twitter can be used as a way to tell the world what you thought of the restaurant you ate lunch at. In a few cases, Twitter has been used to reunite long lost relatives. A homeless man used a cell phone to send a tweet that ended up reconnecting him with his daughter.
The United States is a rich country. Despite this fact, we still have a lot of people who are living at or below poverty level, and a growing number of people who are homeless. The town that I live in has more than one homeless shelter. There are churches that open their doors to give people who are homeless a warm, safe, place to sleep at night. Even so, there are still a lot of homeless people who appear to have absolutely nowhere to go except for the streets, and the empty fields, around town.
One of the many difficulties that comes with being homeless is that it becomes very hard to keep in touch with one’s relatives. If you want to have a cell phone, you need to be able to pay for both the phone and the service. If you use a computer at an internet cafe, you usually have to pay a fee first. Most libraries will not let a person use one of their computers to access the internet unless the person has a library card. In order to get that library card, you have to have a home address. You also need a home address in order to for the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail to you. If you want a P.O. Box, this, too, requires money.
A project called Underheard in New York was created by a group of interns from Bartle Bogle Hegarty. They wanted to do something that would make people listen, and to inspire them to make a positive difference in the world. This group purchased pre-paid cell phones, which they handed to a small group of homeless men, for the purpose of documenting their life as a homeless person through Twitter.
Daniel Morales was one of the homeless men who was handed a pre-paid cell phone from Underheard in New York. Daniel quickly amassed more than 3,000 followers on Twitter. He sent this tweet: “Hi thi is to let yo people know that in lookin eoq my daughter her name is sarah m rivera.” He also posted a photo of his daughter and his cell phone number. His daughter, Sarah Rivera, was sixteen years old the last time the two saw each other eleven years ago.
The very next day, Daniel Morales got a phone call from his long, lost, daugher, Sarah. She was now age twenty-seven, and was living in a domestic violence shelter with her two children. Daniel and Sarah originally lost touch with each other when Sarah moved from the United States to Puerto Rico in 2000, in order to live with her mother. It’s rather amazing that these two long lost relatives were able to reconnect with each other thanks to a tweet Daniel sent out on Twitter.
Image by Franco Folini on Flickr