Eduardo Higareda created the How to Help platform to indicate how and where to help those affected by the earthquake.
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When Eduardo Higareda received the news of the earthquake, he did not assume that this event would change his life. He worked in Monterrey like any other day, he stepped on his twitter and the first thing he saw were tweets speaking of an earthquake and the seismic warning. They were from his friends who were in Mexico City at the time. “I didn’t know if it was related to the morning exercise or another earthquake,” he recalls.
After seeing the devastation the earthquake caused that afternoon and confirming that his friends were safe, Eduardo set out to help with the rescue effort. The first thing he did was donate money to Los Topos, and then he shared that brigade’s website on Facebook so more people could add their help.
It was during this dissemination work that he found that many people were willing to volunteer in different states of the country, but did not know how or where to do it. How can I help from here? Everyone asked themselves this question before the earthquake, says Eduardo, who hours later found a solution to make the aid more efficient.
The night began to fall, it was the worst moment of the crisis after the accident. Rescuers and young volunteers worked non-stop, and help became increasingly important. It was during these moments that Eduardo came up with the idea of creating the comoayudar.mx website, a portal that would provide first-hand information on various ways to alleviate the effects of the earthquake.
This platform centralizes the needs in the phase of rescue, construction and support of the victims, such as donating money to foundations, food in collection points, support in brigades or simply joining as a volunteer. The help options are divided into categories and locations to assist according to each person’s ability.
In less than an hour and a half, he managed to create the first version of this platform. He bought the comoayudar.mx domain. “I needed a name that was easy to pronounce, remember, and related to what was happening,” says Eduardo. After that, thanks to his web design skills, he started putting together the page and did it easily in HTML and CSS languages. He also created the Twitter account @ HowToHelp to spread it and publish the instructions.
That same evening at 9:30 p.m. this platform was officially launched. The first to take part were developers and designers who fortified the website with updated information, maps, and emergency contacts. At that time there were three ways to help: sign up as a programmer, send support to the victims, and share this initiative.
But Eduardo didn’t think that his site would have a positive impact in a few hours, as he already had 700,000 visits the next day. “Thousands of people shared the website, then the media, news sites, the radio, and celebrities.” Foreigners also took part, including some Taiwanese who donated to the Red Cross and Los Topos because they found out about the initiative online.
Edgar estimates that likely 20% of visits and interactions on the website were converted into direct and indirect help. But getting here was not an easy task. Edgar did not expect that the logistics and the demand for his solution would keep increasing. “I’ve reached a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to support people on the site, add new features, update information, reply to tweets, and so on. “
Fortunately, he was able to create a work team divided into development and social networks. This contributed to a more organized operational structure in order to increase productivity and optimize work. This solution was able to direct aid at the height of the emergency that Mexico City, Morelos, Puebla and Oaxaca faced after the collapse of thousands of buildings.
Today Como Ayudar plans to become an aid channeling platform that can be used in any type of natural disaster or need for help in Mexico. The goal is to “create a digital team or brigade to respond efficiently to these events using social networks,” says the 23-year-old from Monterrey, who is convinced that he will fight misinformation if an earthquake occurs like that occurs again on September 19th.