Welcome to Fanlanthropy – a new series here at The Honey POP where we shine a light on incredible stans who are using the power of fandom to do good in the world and help out important causes. Fandoms are super powerful in sharing information and working on projects, so using those impressive skills for a good cause ends in some great results.
Over 75% of the 2.2 billion blind or visually impaired people worldwide have preventable or treatable conditions. Yet, almost 90% of the world’s blind population live in areas with no access to good quality eye care. Over 1.6 billion people could have sight if they were able to access the treatment they needed, which is a number equivalent of both the US population and all of Africa combined. According to The World Health Organization, the number of blind people worldwide is predicted to triple by 2050.
According to the World Health Organization’s recent report on vision, children with vision impairment often experience developmental delays, limited opportunities to excel in school, and lower self-esteem. In addition to this, the quality of life of blind adults is dramatically impacted. They have lower workforce participation rates and increased anxiety and depression — as they get older, there’s also an increased chance of social isolation.
In honor of Monsta X‘s Shownu, fans have fundraised for SEE International. This nonprofit humanitarian organization provides accessible vision care services to underserved communities both in the United States and internationally under the project named See With Shownu. We spoke to the organizer to learn more.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Isamar, also known as @monizzy0618 on Twitter, and my pronouns are she/her. I am a Monbebe from California, and I’ve been into K-POP for almost ten years. I’m an older fan by K-POP standards, at 26 years old, and a June Gemini. I’ve been into K-POP since 2nd Gen, but Monsta X permanently and completely stole my heart. I work full-time in education and love working with kids. My favorite things include 191116 Shownu, concerts, traveling, food, thrift-shopping, tea, singing (badly), the MCU, and the friends I have made through being a Monbebe.
In honor of Shownu’s birthday, you’ve created See With Shownu to support SEE International. What inspired you to create this project?
As you may know, Shownu had to take a leave from actively promoting with Monsta X right before the comeback. He was dealing with complications from corrective surgery for retinal detachment last year. Coincidentally, I have issues with a tear in one of my retinas, so it hit close to home that my favorite K-POP artist was dealing with sight issues as well. One of the things that scare me the most in life is to think that someday, I may not be able to see anymore, but I am fortunate enough to be able to receive care and treatment for my condition. When the news of Shownu’s hiatus came out, I thought a lot about how to show that I care and wanted to do something for him. I quickly realized that he has the ability to receive care and was already being treated and monitored. From that stemmed the thought that there are a lot of people in the world who do not have that ability, and I thought that it would be a thoughtful gesture to find an organization that helps treat eye problems for those who cannot otherwise be treated. That was how I came to find SEE International. The name of the project came from one of my favorite Monbebes, @monstamohae. She thought it was a clever play on words because the organization is called SEE International, and the fundraiser aims to help people keep their sight. Shownu is known for his puns and dad jokes, so it was rather fitting.
What can you tell us about SEE International? How will the project’s funds support the charity?
SEE International is a California-based non-profit organization that takes volunteer medical professionals around the world to communities that have low resources or no access to eye care and provides sight-saving care/surgeries to people at no cost. Because of COVID-19, they currently don’t have any projects going on globally but have had projects in 40 countries and provided hundreds of surgeries. I chose them as the organization to benefit from the fundraiser because of their good history and spending percentages. A majority of one’s donation actually goes to funding surgeries and care, which is important.
We know Shownu along with Monsta X have been involved in philanthropy and charity work. How would you say he inspires you?
I would absolutely say he inspires me. He’s an amazing and caring person, and I try to live a life that he and the others would be proud of. I have my own set of values and morals that I live by, but I always think about the phrase, “What Would Shownu Do?” My life has gotten so much more peaceful as a result.
We know how powerful fandoms are, what do you think about fandoms and the importance of using their platforms for vital causes such as this one?
I think it is important to use one’s voice and “power” for good. Too often, we see huge platforms being used to put others down or start “fan wars.” I think if we applied that power for good, we could change so much. We come together to vote and stream during comebacks, and the numbers prove the power of moving together. If we applied that same force for civic issues, we could and would change the world. All it takes is the right person to share something or speak up about something for people to react and act, and we’ve seen this happen in the past few years. When it comes to sharing fundraisers or petitions, our connectedness as fans allows for the quick dissemination of materials and information. We’re more connected than ever before in the history of humankind, and I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as stans who are passionate about something.
I think that we, as fans, all want our faves to be proud of us and we want the world to see how they inspire us to be good people. I often tell other fans that the stans are reflections of their faves. When people look at Monbebe as a fandom, if we act in good faith and do good, then people look at Monsta X as a good influence. Conversely, if all people ever see is the fandom acting badly, it doesn’t look good for the group as well. Ideally, I’d want the world to see that Monsta X are an amazing group of guys, who inspire me to be a better person through their music and their actions and hopefully attract others to love them as much as I do.
What advice do you have for fans who are considering setting up a project similar to yours for their favorite artist?
I would tell them to connect with larger fanbases if possible. I was fortunate enough to be able to connect to larger pages that shared and promoted the project. Like I mentioned before, it just takes the right person to share something for it to spread. I would also allow for time and be conscious of the timing of the project. You don’t want to overlap with other projects because people might have to choose which to support. Additionally, no project is too small to matter. We all just want to create a better world, and every contribution matters.
Thanks, Isamar! We know Shownu would be so proud!
Did you take part in this project for Shownu? Do you know of any other fandoms doing good? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
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Featured Image Source: Bibi Lara
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.