Amy Bruce. The name sounds familiar to you, doesn’t it? Let me help you, she’s the poor 7-year old little girl who needs your help. “She needs surgery for her sick lungs and if you don’t forward this message to ten of your friends, it will mean you are the worst of moral criminals. You deserve the hottest place in hell,” to paraphrase.
So the e-mail does its rounds all over the world. Every day, someone opens their e-mail and comes upon a forwarded e-mail and on opening it, what do you know, it’s from someone who is so moved, they had to send it to you. To a point where you start thinking of this little girl as some sort of icon. She is in the line of Mother Teresa and all the saints poured in one.
But that’s what you think about after the first few times you receive the poem she allegedly wrote, grown up phraseology and all. When you keep on receiving the letter two years on, even if you are the thickest of all God’s children, you sit up and smell the Arabica, right? Unfortunately that’s not really the case.
How many people have forwarded this e-mail since you first received it. And forwarded it? Remember that all you have to do to help Amy is to send it forward. You are not required to donate money to any numbered account or anything that would raise your hackles. So since 1999, the thing has been going round the globe.
The Amy Bruce affair seems just as innocent as the one that comes in your mail telling you that Bill and Melinda Gates are helping raise money for sick children in Africa and all you have to do is send the e-mail to as many people as you can. And you might even get money for your troubles. Now that’s the clincher. Such bogus e-mails keep on flooding your box and you just can’t stop them.
Some well meaning friend reads it and they think about you and how kind and sensitive you are and voila! They know who best qualifies to be sent this corny stuff. The problem is that they actually believe it. Within companies, one person gets the e-mail and they send it to everyone in their outlook address book. Probably, they do it with tears in their eyes, really moved about the kid who won’t survive if we don’t act.
But people get tired of being bleeding hearts. Or at, least, they eventually start asking themselves what this thing is really about. Why is this American kid still asking for money six years later?
Even at the ANPPCAN offices in Mulago, one can see how far deep the lie has sunk. They have the picture of Amy proudly up on their notice board and these are supposed to be old hands at children’s issues. I bet many other children’s organisations have swallowed it too.
Don’t be surprised to find out the whole thing started as a joke that some bored computer geek put out just to see how far a lie would go. Mr. Geek probably got tired of it all and wanted to forget it all but he couldn’t. Probably he is one of those who are peeved every time their PC goes “You’ve Got Mail,” only to find Amy Bruce. And Amy? She must be a billionaire now.