Floods in Assam are a yearly occurrence that threaten the lives of humans and wildlife alike. Seeing the devastation of the rains, Bhavana Barman reached out to the online community for help on 15 July via a Twitter post that quickly gained momentum. Her Twitter content is mainly about the South Korean boy band ‘BTS’ also known as the Bangtan Boys whom she admires ardently.
Naturally, a large chunk of her followers are fans of the seven-member K-pop band and they recognise themselves as the ‘BTS ARMY’.
The tweet moved various members of the BTS ARMY into action especially in India wherein they raised close to Rs 5.9 lakhs in just 24 hours for the Assam flood victims!
Bhavana clarifies that she did not start the campaign alone as reported by most media platforms. Instead, it was a collaborative effort of the BTS ARMY community members who helped achieve the feat.
The Better India reports how the relief workers and volunteers of the BTS ARMY went about their operations inspired by the philanthropic work of the K-pop band.
BTS ARMY Moves into Action
Once Bhavana tweeted on the flood situation in Assam, a lot of BTS ARMY members not just from the Northeast but from across the country took notice.
“We had a personal chat group of BTS members on Twitter and Juhi, a fan from Mumbai started talking about the floods in Assam. We soon created another group of 30 members who wanted to help out for the cause. We immediately started researching on legitimate fundraising links and organisations who we could support in addition to amplifying the issue on social media platforms,” says 20-year-old Khachuk, a student of English Honours from Lady Sri Ram college.
The volunteers including Khachuk and Bhavana soon reached out to Kukikalyani Borgohain who identifies herself as ‘Khamseng’ (her pen name for her poetry), who had been working with ‘People for People’, founded in the backdrop of the Baghjan Oil disaster to carry out the relief work.
This voluntary organisation had previously raised about Rs. 13 lakh for relief work in Assam which had inspired trust among the BTS ARMY volunteers.
They urged Khamseng to send out a link for donations where people could contribute.
“On 16 July, the link went live at 1:30 p.m. and we tweeted about it everywhere and it blew up. When the link was initially set up, it was to raise Rs. 30,000 till 28 July. But we ended up raising Rs. 5.9 lakh in a matter of 24 hours!” says Khachuk.
Although the link is now closed, there is a new link that has been set up by the voluntary organisation to raise an additional Rs. 30,000 till 20 July. This is being currently managed by ‘People for People’ that is organising an e-concert to raise this amount. The link to the concert has been shared on Facebook page, ‘The Voice of North East India’.
Artists like Shankuraj Konwar, Nilutpal Bora, Johnny Marak, Bidyutjyoti Mohan, Bottle Rockets India, Jutimala Buragohain, Moniraj Hazarika, Farhad Hussain are set to perform to raise money for flood relief activities.
Additionally, BTS ARMY has also put out a new link to collect donations for Asaam Floods.
BTS: The Message of Love and Charity
“A lot of fans admit that they discover BTS when they need them the most. It was the same for me when I discovered them in 2015. I was not in a very good place at the time and their message of self-love inspired me. Their album ‘Love Yourself’ has really left a deep impression on me and helped me shape the person I am today,” says Khachuk earnestly.
Bhavana on the other hand discovered BTS in late 2017 when she watched a video of their dance performance on stage. Later, she ended up doing a lot of research on them and found the message they spread through their songs impactful.
“They focus on subjects like mental health, self-love, and humility when you translate the lyrics. There is no mention of drugs, nudity, violence and slurs which is so common otherwise. Their message of positivity is what sets them apart and shows that music has no language barriers,” explains the 23-year-old Economics Master’s student.
For Khamseng, reading the meaning of the lyrics moved her and she became a huge fan of the K-pop band. “As a poet myself, I found their lyrics so uplifting and powerful,” she says.
Earlier this month, BTS donated about $1 million to the Black Lives Matter movement. Subsequently, BTS fans across the globe mobilised the #MatchAMillion campaign where the fans also ended up raising an additional $1 million within 24 hours to support the campaign,” she adds.
In addition to the uplifting messages, in September 2018, the boy band was invited at the United Nations 73rd General Assembly to address the launch of the youth initiative ‘Youth 2030: The UN Youth Strategy’ and the UNICEF campaign ‘Generation Unlimited’. With their work, the K-pop continues to inspire scores of their fans not just in South Korea but across the world.
“To carry out charitable activities in India, we launched the ‘BTSARMY Helps India’ page on twitter to carry out charitable activities in the future. Now, our focus is to also help out with flood relief work in Bihar,” informs Bhavana.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)