smart and creative colleague of mine let me know about The Status of Africa yesterday. The African Medical and Research Foundation has developed a Facebook application where you "lend" your Facebook and Twitter status messages to someone in Africa for five days. Your account then sends out tweets as if you were that person, and it includes links to relevant AMREF websites. It strikes me as a creative awareness tool.
I should note that the status messages were actually drafted by AMREF, not necessarily the individuals they identify. Technically that's probably the best you can do at this point. They disclose this readily, so there isn't a transparency issue in my mind.
It's enormously difficult for non-profits to break through the media noise without massive resources. Instead groups must rely on creativity and social networking. I don't know if this application is part of a larger strategy, and I'd like to know what they're doing about garnering traditional media attention. Still, kudos to AMREF for showing some initiative, overcoming fears, and of course, doing the truly important work of working to improve health and development in Africa.