The oxygen plant is expected to function in three months.

A screengrab from the fundraising event by Tamil YouTubersScreenshot
Features Coronavirus Wednesday, June 02, 2021 - 13:01

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a challenge to the public and health infrastructure. Due to shortage of beds and oxygen supply in the hospitals, the death toll continues to climb causing deep fear among people. Although the pandemic has pushed people into a deeper crisis, many good Samaritans —  from common citizens and social media influencers to celebrities, are finding ways to save as many lives as possible by donating their time, money and resources. As one such event, several YouTubers and media celebrities recently came together to generate funds for setting up an oxygen plant at the Tiruvannamalai Government Hospital.

The event called “We For O2”, which was live streamed on May 30 on nearly 10 YouTube channels for over six hours, raised 21 lakhs with just 25 YouTubers and celebrities entertaining the public. Tamil Kelvi, a digital news channel with 2.15 lakh subscribers, Nakkalites, an entertainment channel with political satire and comedy videos, Black Sheep, an entertainment channel with 3.89 million subscribers, and YouTuber Madan Gowri with 4.94 million subscribers were among the 25 influencers present during the event.  

The six-hour event started with a parai song, followed by a clipping in which  Sandeep Nanduri, the Tiruvannamalai Collector, addressed the viewers. Singing, Q 'n' A from viewers and games of various sorts were part of the live streaming.

Speaking to TNM, YouTuber and journalist Iyan Karthikeyan who runs a fact-checking portal with 1.4 lakh subscribers said, “We began the preparations for the event only a day before. When we called in other YouTubers and media celebrities, everyone promptly joined and shared ideas. We also formed an association and named it as Tamil Digital Creators Association as a beginning for good initiatives.”

“As the initiative was a significant one, YouTubers without hesitation took on the technical side of the work along with content generation. Plip Plip and Sarva Saga played an important role in show designing," added Karthikeyan. "To avoid the funds dropping into each of our personal YouTube channels, all the YouTubers disabled personal monetisation features in our channels as the event was solely for oxygen plants in Tiruvannamalai," he said.

As far as crowdfunding is concerned, Karthikeyan pointed out that the event's transparency and public’s faith in the cause played a huge role in collecting Rs 21 lakh in just six hours.

As the public donated money, the amount was displayed on the screen for everyone to see. Hence, the event organisers say there was transparency while conducting the event.

Watch: Crowdfunding online event for Tiruvannamalai oxygen plant

Besides YouTubers, the Tiruvannamalai district administration and Rotary Pride collaborated for the crowdfunding.

Explaining the process, A Anbarasu of Rotary Pride,  Tiruvannamalai, said, “Over a few months, I was constantly hearing about oxygen shortage and people succumbing due to lack of oxygen cylinders. Although I could help a few people with my resources, many were left out. Hence I reached out to the Tiruvannamalai Collector and that's how the idea started off."

“For the project estimated at Rs 60 lakh, the Tiruvannamalai Rotary had donated Rs 20 lakh, Collector Sandeep Nanduri donated Rs 20 lakh as part of CSR. And the rest we managed to collect through the YouTubers’ live broadcasting. More than “We For O2” as a successful event, we see this as a motivation to save lives," added Anbarasu.

Meanwhile YouTuber Mr. GK, who discusses General Knowledge with his 6.43 lakh subscribers, confirmed that more such associations are being planned in the future as the demands are still high.

“The success behind the event and being able to raise 21 lakh in six hours is because a clear requirement was put out to the public. This definitely helped us in building the trust among people," explains GK.

Commenting on this, Tiruvannamalai District Collector Sandeep Nanduri said, “The order for the oxygen generation plant has been given to a company in Coimbatore and the project estimate is Rs 60 lakh. Currently, there is no oxygen shortage in the district. However, the new infrastructure will improve the conditions now and prepare for the future. The oxygen plant will function in three months.”

“And through the donations we were able to strengthen the medical infrastructure in Tiruvannamalai,” he added.

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