Influencer drives ’light up KZN’ campaign
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A Durban social media influencer, Alyssa Pillay, has asked her followers to lend a helping hand to families affected by the recent unrest that left some without an income.
Pillay, 30, from Chatsworth, has so far raised R163 000 through her Instagram and TikTok social media accounts, to provide electricity vouchers to more than 3 000 families who had suffered due to the recent riots.
The self-employed web developer, said she came up with the idea while in quarantine at her home after she contracted Covid-19.
She said that after witnessing the unrest she turned to her 40 000 plus Instagram followers to announce her initiative, which she has called “light up KZN”.
Doing a live video to interact with her followers, she pleaded with them to lend a helping hand by offering water and electricity vouchers to those in need. She encouraged those who required electricity to share their meter number so they could receive their vouchers.
Since then, donors had been flooding her Instagram and TikTok DMs (direct messages) pledging their support.
Pillay said the initiative was warmly received and her fans had pledged to donate more than an electricity voucher. She asked those in need to send a list of their necessities.
Pillay became an influencer four years ago. She said she was ecstatic about the response in changing the "bad" narrative that influencers were not giving back to people who followed them.
“My followers are very engaging people and when I go ’live’ they turn out in seizable numbers. So as we were all confined in our homes during the unrest, I wanted to do something to help and the results are overwhelming.
“The amount is more than what I have counted because some donors didn’t reveal the amount of vouchers they bought. Every day my followers are joining my conversation and have been pledging to help, buying vouchers to ensure everyone at least has the power.
“I didn’t expect this positive feedback, but it’s heart-warming to see beneficiaries reaching out to me for appreciation. Others have also pledged to help other people with whatever they can, it’s introduced a new culture of sharing,” she said.
Pillay said her campaign had gained momentum, attracting people even outside Durban who have lauded her for using her influence to help others.
Although her campaign was initially to get electricity vouchers, Pillay said donors had asked to provide other necessities and forced her to open an account for them to send cash.
“It seems like this is just the beginning. I’m elated, my followers have shown humanity, especially in times when we need each other.
“Due to the overwhelming response, I now have five people who are part of the company assisting me with the administration.
“Electricity is a basic need, you can have food and everything but without it, there is a little you could do. We are now looking at how best we can sustain this initiative because we want to create a platform where people can share whatever they have extra to those in need,” she said.