Western Cape Mobile Substance Abuse Counselling Service Part II

October 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

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We had a follow up meeting at Reconstructed Living Labs (RLABS) with The Department Of Social Development  last week Friday (23rd October) to determine when our pilot project would be launched.

The five areas in the Western Cape that will be targeted is, Khyalitsha,  Atlantis, Mitchells Plain,  Athlone & Paarl. The NGO’s that will be part of this project is SANCA, Dop Stop, Sultun Bahu and Impact Direct Ministiers. This NGO’s will target 3 schools each in their area from grade 8-10. Each of the NGO’s will have two cousellors  that will be online for four hours per day Monday-Thursday.

As we here at RLABS have developed the system we will be using to do the mobile counseling from, we were delegated to do the training with the 5 NGO,s as to how to use the system.We will be starting the training this Monday ( 2nd November) with the 5 NGO,s and th training will run for two and a half days.

This is the start of great things and new  parterships as we come together to combat the scurge of drugs on The Cape Flats that is destroying homes and our community.

I will be keeping you updated as we things progress.

Western Cape Mobile Substance Abuse Counselling Service PART I

October 20, 2009 § 2 Comments

Today I was in a very significant meeting. It was meeting where new things were to give birth. There was five different organisations present and Marlon Parker from RLABS presented to the various organisations how Social Media could be used to combat the scurge against the drug problem in our country. Also present was Social Development with whom RLABS is partnering and taking this pilot project forward.

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RLABS is to role out a Western Cape Mobile Substance Abuse Counselling Service. As a group we are piloting a distributed mobile counselling service across the Western Cape starting in 5 high risk districts. The  mobile application we are using to reach out to the youth in South Africa is Mxit. Mxit currently has about 15 million users in South Africa alone and 80% of them are ages between 13 -35.I will be giving you stats in my next blog post of what our counselling service is all about.

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WHAT IS A LIVING LAB?

A Living Lab is a user-centric research methodology for sensing, prototyping, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts. It is a human-centric Research and Development approach to ICT solutions and innovations.RLABS (Reconstructed Labs) is a community based organisation and is an innitiative by Impact Direct Ministries

Here is a bit more about RLABS:

The Reconstructed Living Lab is one of ten in South Africa, and the first one in the Western Cape. The project has grown out of collaboration between Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), a community organisation Impact Direct Ministries (IDM), and the Bridgetown Civic Organisation. It has features that are unique in living labs as it is community led and is based in a social deprived area in Cape Town.

Athlone is situated on the Cape Flats of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. It is today known for two features, the new football stadium and the obsolete power towers which dominate the area. The society is described by Parker (2008) as a community in tension. Factors for the grounds of tension include: lack of economical development (e.g. unemployment, inflation); Social inequality (e.g. lack of social services,) Lack of education and lack of appropriateness and use of technology (e.g. technology not being utilised fully within communities for its intended use). Athlone has all these social problems, and is plagued with violence, drugs and gangsterism.

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RLABS is one of the projects that also falls under the banner of Impact Direct Ministries.I now work for Impact and have a role that I play within RLABS. My job description is that of Operations Manager within RLABS. This particular pilot project will be funded by Social Services and we are looking forward to rolling it out in the schools.

For now I cannot go into much detail about this project but will be keeping you updated as things unfold. We will be having another meeting this Friday (23/10/2009) This is just another way of how you can use Social Media for Social Change. Watch this space as we see how the lives will be changed by with the use of Social Media.

OUR JOURNEYS HAVE BECOME ENTWINED

October 6, 2009 § 10 Comments

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On this past Friday Bradley Naidoo, one of my colleagues, suggested that we take the new men in our program on an excursion to Table Mountain. The purpose of this excursion was to get them away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky and no wind blowing. It was hot but enjoyable under the big blue, open sky. City life can keep one constantly busy and surrounded by the constant buzz of the city. In the mountains it is just you, God and His beautiful creations.

The idea of this trek to the mountain was to give them an opportunity to reflect and think about the life journey on which they have embarked. These men, like me, are former drug addicts. They have, however, been clean and drug free for a month now and this is the point at which job one for us is to facilitate their staying clean.

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On our arrival at the foot of the mountain we unpacked the van and started up the mountain. We all enjoyed the beautiful day and basked in its beauty and calmness. One could not help but admire the beauty of God’s creations. The fresh water stream flowing down from the mountain all along the trial added to this picture perfect day.

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Once we reached our destination the new men in the program were requested to go off alone and find a spot where they could sit quietly, reflect, pray and ask God for guidance. Those of us working with these men found our quiet spaces and did our own praying and reflecting. The time allotted for this was a half hour and at the end of that time they came back to us with feedback.

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In my quiet time I reflected and prayed over the city, our city which is located at the foot of Table Mountain. I asked God that He bestow the same peace and grace upon the city, every youth in the city and our new recruits that He has so abundantly brought to both Bradley’s life and mine. Hearing the rush of the stream behind me, I glanced back and saw the stream flowing from the mountain top. It appeared almost as if it were flowing into the city. In that wonderful, peaceful moment it seemed to me as if the water was flowing from the throne of God. As I observed the stream my thoughts went to those words in my NIV Bible, John 7:37 that speak about streams of living water. There was no doubt in my mind that this was God’s way of telling me that this living water will flow into our city and bring healing wherever needed. This thought filled me with gratitude.

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After the time of reflection and prayer the feedback from the new men in the program was most gratifying. Furthermore when it was time to leave the mountain, they did not want to go. .I fully understood their not wanting to leave because I’ve experienced that very thing. I know from my personal experience that when one finally gives up drug addiction and gets to know God, it is an eye opening experience, both figuratively and literally. Once my eyes were open to God I begin to see how green the grass is and how blue the sky is. Everything around me became so much more beautiful than it had been before and I began to fully appreciate all of creation.

Knowing we had exposed these new men to that same wonderful experience gave me a wonderful feeling. Not only had we shown them there is more to life than drugs, sex and rock n roll, we had given them the opportunity to be born again into a truly beautiful and fulfilling world.

As I think about keeping you up to date on the journey of these young men who have rid themselves of the slavery of drugs, I think about the title of this blog…Brent’s Journey. The idea of this blog was to keep you up to date on my personal journey. My journey has, however, become so entwined with the journeys of all those I help that my journey is their journey and theirs has, in a way, become mine. In God, we are all one.

May you stay always in God’s Grace, Brent

Where Am I?

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