Call for Change: Burma is Just a Free Phone Call Away

Did you know that you can dial up the Burmese government for free from your mobile phone? A new program called Call for Change allows users to call Burma and other humanitarian causes at no cost beyond what their mobile provider charges for a local call.

Call for Change is a program of Rebtel, a Stockholm-based company that provides low-cost and free ways to make calls on a mobile phone. The service works currently works in 40 countries and 50 U.S. cities.

Call for Change started about a month ago during the protests in Burma. Rebtel's staffers felt passionately about the Burmese protests, and were frustrated when Burma suddently disappeared from the nightly news.  Greg Spector, one of Rebtel's founders, wrote on Rebtel's blog:

But shortly thereafter the noise and attention shifted to other hot spots and the people of Burma seemed to be quickly forgotten. We realized that silence is exactly what the dictatorship in Burma wants. So last month the staff at Rebtel came up with a way to put our technology to work free of charge and allow people around the world to call Burmese government offices to voice their discontent and protest.

The result of this frustration was Call for Change. "We wanted to put our technology to work for good causes, especially things that involve human rights," Greg told MobileActive. "The campaign allows organizations to use our technology free of charge and literally call for change." Rebtel created a widget that automatically generated local numbers, allowing users to call the Burmese government for the cost of a local call. People could then register their complaints about the human rights situation with the government.

The program is still new -- Greg called it a "grassroots campaign" -- but has plans to expand. Other causes in the works include the conflict in Darfur. To get more information about Call for Change, or to get a widget made for a cause, email Greg Spector at greg.spector [at]

Photo credit to Greg Spector. The photo shows how Call for Change appeared on a Facebook newsfeed.

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