Newlands Rotarian Regine le Roux has a big, bold, audacious African dream to empower local community members who do not have basic computer skills with an opportunity to learn how to use a computer and in that way boost their opportunities of entering the job market and contributing to the economy. Find out more about how you can help make this dream become a reality!
Originally published in Regine's blog here: http://bit.ly/TheMADDream
 
"As you may know, I belong to Hout Bay Harriers (HBH), Hout Bay's running club. I don't run fast at all; truth be told, I shuffle at best. The club has the most incredible development team from Imizamo Yetho (local community). Besides being some of the most amazing people that I have met, I admire their grit and goals they set themselves; regardless of whether it is summer or winter, some of them are up by 04:00 to train before work. One of the runners has often asked me for a job, unfortunately, I have not had the right opportunity to offer. Yet. It is something that I have been thinking about a lot.

So, with our focus changing predominantly from providing media liaison and business communication support for our clients, to reputation research, opportunities started flickering of how I could work more with the communities in which we live and work.

Earlier in the year, a project presented itself that needed fieldworkers; I needed to deploy a team that could engage with isiXhosa speaking stakeholders. I reached out to said HBH and asked him whether he could speak isiXhosa; unfortunately, as he is a foreign national, he does not. Then, sometime later when the surveys had to be captured manually, I asked whether he could use a computer, to which he shyly admitted he could not. This made me realise that he was representing one of so many people in our communities.

So, for the past couple of months, I have been on a mission to learn more about computer skills development. My path crossed with the wonderful duo of Shile and Mzi from Quirky30. They are doing amazing work in Langa empowering unemployed youth with coding skills. I reached out to them to find out how we could duplicate what they are doing in other areas, specifically Hout Bay, as I would like to first get something up and running locally in my own community and then see how best to duplicate it and extend it into other communities in South Africa and Africa.

Taking a step back, for some time I have been wanting to expand into Africa. The example that I always use is McDonalds. I admire the fact that they are able to consistently produce the same level of hamburger and fries across the global. The fact is, you find comfort in the quality and what you will be presented with regardless of where on the globe you are. I want to do the same with reputation into Africa. We have the most amazing continent, people and resources, helping to build the continent's reputation will impact the economy, foreign investment and social development.

What the big hairy audacious MAD dream is, is this... imagine we can train up community members from different countries with basic computer, fieldwork and data capturing skills. Then imagine this, when we have a project in e.g. Malawi or Uganda, they then come with me to train up the people in those communities and help set up similar hubs as they can speak the language and understand the culture. Taking a group of South Africans would not make sense, it is about empowering and working with the communities in which we operate.

When I was sharing the dream with my friend Bronwyn (my laughter coach friend that I also wrote about last week), she burst into song and started singing Vicky Sampson's "My African Dream" I won't lie, I rolled my eyes. But then the next morning, I still had the earworm so I decided to listen to the words and found the song on YouTube. I realised that My AfriCAN Dream = MAD, which also stands for Making A Difference. As 'they' say, if your dreams aren't big, MAD and scare you, they are not big enough!

Going back to Sihle and Mzi, they said that what is needed to set up a coding hub is a room that can accommodate at least 15 computers. So my mission was to find a space in Hout Bay to make this happen.

In my discussion and chats (with everyone and sundry), I came across the Sijongo-Phambili Learning Centre in Penzance Avenue, Imizamo Yetho. What a jewel of a building! I am now working with them to put a pilot project in place to get the basic computer classes and coding into place so that we can use it as a blueprint to duplicate it across the country and continent.

Here's a document that I have put together putting a bit more structure to the above. Read it here: http://bit.ly/TheMADDream"