Our Better World is a digital storytelling platform, an initiative of the Singapore International Foundation that tells stories across Asia to inspire people online to take action and create a positive impact in the world.
In February 2018, Our Better World told the story of Cactus Foundation in India. Nusrat Khan Pahade, a mother and a survivor of child sexual abuse, founded Cactus Foundation to help ensure no other child experiences the physical and emotional trauma of such horrendous acts.
In 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported that a child is sexually abused every 15 minutes. Cactus Foundation helps eradicate child sexual abuse by teaching children to tell the difference between a "safe" or "unsafe" touch, what is considered sexual abuse, and what they should do in case they find themselves in such a situation.
This is not an easy feat. In many cases, the perpetrators are known to the families, which complicates the issue. Sometimes, the children are forced to remain quiet by their own families, so they hesitate to come forward, and continue to suffer needlessly. This is also what gives perpetrators the courage to continue.
But by working with teachers, schools and parents, Cactus Foundation is allowing them to have conversations with children that are otherwise avoided.
Educating children on this is an important first step to prevention. Through their work, Cactus Foundation aims to create a safe and healthy environment for India's children.
The goal was to create awareness and get people to sign up to volunteer.
Since Cactus Foundation is based in Solapur, our strategy was to launch the story there and boost the social media post to start a groundswell of support for their work from their home base. The thinking was that launching in Solapur would deliver on healthy online engagement supportive of Cactus Foundation's work and that this could help shape the conversation.
We then boosted the posts to Pune, Hyderabad and Mumbai – areas in India that Cactus Foundation was eyeing to expand their work into.
The campaign was executed predominantly on Facebook, then Instagram and Twitter.
Another strategy was to have a specific purpose for each social media asset created for this story.
On Facebook, the video story was to engage people in real, earnest conversation, the teaser video was to lead to the story on our site, a lead gen ad was created for volunteer sign-up, and a photo album to teach people to recognize the signs of abuse.
Since the topic was taboo and contentious, and Our Better World wanted to have real conversations on it, Our Better World together with Cactus Foundation prepared a comprehensive working document on questions people may have on child sexual abuse and what people could do to stop it. This helped facilitate conversations online that led to many opening up about their own experiences of abuse.
At the tail-end of the campaign we also posted a "thank you for taking action" post to our FB community for the (then) 732 volunteers who had signed up.
Recently, Nusrat and her team reached out to the 167 who signed up to volunteer from Hyderabad and to meet and mobilize them for the work of empowering children with knowledge and keeping them safe from child sexual abuse.
Cactus Foundation needed awareness and volunteers. We used our video to get them the help they need.
Our Better World launched the video on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, via newsletter and pitched the story to other online media.
After two weeks, the story was viewed 1,744,446 times on multiple platforms. A month after launch, 1,021 people across India signed up to volunteer for Cactus Foundation.
The story was shared 12,682 times. This led to meaningful conversations about child sexual abuse, with victims speaking out against it by sharing their own painful, personal stories, including from a woman in her 70s.
A deliberate effort to pitch the story to other online media resulted in it being picked up by AsiaOne (3.4mil/month site views), The Logical Indian (1.1mil/month site views), Youth Ki Awaaz (400k/month site views) and Life Beyond Numbers (25k/month site view).
The most rewarding result came from Nusrat, the founder of Cactus Foundation.
"The entire story-making process helped us – from filming to story launch. As a story subject, you guys were understanding my strengths, what opportunities are waiting for me, what threats I face and how I can maneuver further. An amazing learning experience! I can't thank you enough! Individuals and organizations outside of India shared their stories and want to volunteer for us. They want us to start chapters outside of India. This response is a humbling experience - it's making us more responsible. We are more committed and driven now."