What an exciting day for us as we began unpacking (Above Wesley and Jason showing some love to the servers)the servers that will support the Advice Support work. The servers were sponsored by the DELL South African Development Fund and the impact it will have on our services reaching out to people in need is massive.
Today the Reconstructed Trainers had a session with the Mom 2.0 ladies teaching them mroe about the micro-blogging tool Twitter. The ladies really impressed me how they embraced the technology and by the end of the day they already had more than 500 tweets amongst them combined. Not bad for a first day of Twitter School.
Be sure to find out more about these women who are using twitter as a way to reach out to other women and mothers in need. This is a first for these women who a few months ago had never even touched a computer but today they are using Social Media for Social Change.
With the Drug Advice Support (DAS) service growing and so much more people to reach we once again featured in a prominent South African News Paper The Business Times yesterday. The article titled "MXit put to some good use" written by Toby ShapShak can be read below:
MXIT, the cellphone instant messaging service best known for chatting teenagers, is now being used to help drug users on the Cape Flats kick their habit. In the service, based in Bridgetown in Athlone, former drug users who counsel tik addicts use the messaging service as a primary method of support. The project, which has been running for about a year, is the brainchild of a remarkable young man, Marlon Parker. Parker, now an information technology lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology where he’s doing his PhD, grew up on the Cape Flats and directly experienced the consequences of drug abuse when his brother was jailed for dealing tik, a highly-addictive methamphetamine drug. Drug users can “chat” with the services’ counsellors when they feel the urge to use, says Parker. It is the first step in a rehabilitation programme run with nongovernmental organisation Impact Direct. Read more
This proved to be an exciting week in the Debt Breaker service. Firstly we are seeing more activity on the service serving more than 500 messages during it Wednesday session. The mobile debt counseling service also appeared in the Atlantic Sun Newspaper and The Cape Times(New Cell phone service provides debt counseling) on Wednesday and two radio interviews Thursday on Cape Talk and Friday on Bush Radio(See two of our debt counselors above Reagen and Russel, source: Bush Radio). The Debt Breaker service has now reached 300 subscribers across platforms which is another highlight for us.
This evening as I was reflecting an exciting day presenting at the SAFIPA conference and being part of this year's Mail & Guardian Young South Africans to take to lunch I realised who are our true heroes. Its those who are in our communities who silently are making a difference daily in the lives of other people.
With so many extraordinary individuals around us, I would like to commend and honour one of our Reconstructed Team members for putting others before himself. Craig "King" Ross lost his father yesterday and the sudden loss of a father, husband and friend is a very traumatic experience. Craig selflessly came to offer support today via our Drug Advice Support (DAS) service helping many people (1293 messages today alone) across the nation even though he lost his father. The manner which he serves his community and others in South Africa is incredible. Yet very few people would give credit to the work he is doing and the lives he is touching and this without expecting anything in return. Therefore this post is to honour Craig for showing us what true Reconstruction is all about that he would put others before himself in the midst of a time of mourning for the Ross family.
He is a true example of a son for his father the late Mr. Ross and we know that he will carry on a legacy through the work he is doing reconstructing communities. Craig "King" Ross you are a true hero to many and your father is proud of you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.
Today I was joined by Rene Parker to attend the SAFIPA (South Africa - Finland knowledge partnership on ICT). The key discussion today was about Business Incubators for Innovation and Open Innovation Models to encourage collaborations in the Triple Helix (Academia-Government-Industry) area. A number of Finnish and South African cases were shared with clear indication that South Africa have a long journey to travel to reach full potential of many of these mediums for Innovation.
Our experiences has been that South Africa do have much to offer in innovation in the ICT sector but the support to implement the innovation from idea to implementation is where we are falling short. How we could use these models in a South African context to maximise innovation spaces is yet to be seen. Tomorrow is Day 2 of the conference and the Athlone Living Lab will be presented as a case for Social and Services Innovation.
Today we've had another exciting session with the mothers who were impressing us with the various means of using social media for social good. The session being managed by the reconstructed team are a real inspiration to many out there how communities could work together to combat various social issues causing tension. The current technologies the mothers are engaging are social networking (facebook) and blogging (Mom 2.0). They will very soon be introduced to micro-blogging technology Twitter.
Today was an exciting day because it was the launch of the South African NetSquared NetTuesday meetups. This exciting initiate was long over due in the South African Technology space where web and mobile are being remixed for social good. The meetup would be an opportunity where NGOs, community organisations, government, academia, industry and citizens could come together to see how collaborations would be possible in South Africa to bring about social change using technology.
The launch was hosted in Cape Town at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and a number of Meetup members were present at the launch. It was good to have a wide variety of stakeholders from industry, NGOs and academia present with exciting networking and collaborations emerging from the Meetup.
We also had special guest speaker Rob Allen with us who shared his experiences using technology in the Social Space and a Community Channels project which could prove to be useful. Overall its was certainly an exciting event with key issues raised being strong linkages between communities, NGOs and industry required. Other members that should be invited are funding institutions, government representation and key industry stakeholders who could contribute to landscape in technology for social good landscape.
A special word of thanks to all our sponsors CPUT, COFISA, NetSquared and RSAWeb for making this meetup possible. We are looking forward to our next meetup 4 August with details soon to follow.
Wherever we go to share the story of Drug Advice Support people always ask why are we doing what we are doing and what is our payment. People are amazed that this is a community initiative that has been running since 2008 and touching the lives of thousands of people. Just reading the messages below encourages us to persevere and not give up knowing we are seeing more lives being reconstructed.
[2009-05-28 17:49:17] User: Hi dare n hey i wnt 2 thank u abt ur wrds nw im proud of wht i am n al the suicidal thoughts r gone keep up da gud wrk.
[2009-06-01 17:23:32] User: Just thought i'd let you guys know i've been clean for a month now - thanx for the help!
With thousands of people having their lives transformed through such a noble service we know that we cant stop what we are doing but only look for ways to improve what we've started.
Firstly, a special thank you to all the men and women who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of others. To the people from the community who support this initiative sharing their resources (plate of food, a note of thanks, hot cup of tea/coffee for advisors and people at Impact centre) your contributions are priceless, Impact Direct Ministries for allowing us to utilise your space and resources, to the team of developers who along with the community are breaking new ground as we journey together you are changing many lives, to DELL South Africa Development Fund for their generous sponsorship your donation is priceless.