BT helps children, mothers of Nkosi's Haven in SA reach for better future

Johannesburg, 09 Dec 2010
Read time 2min 50sec

BT South Africa today announced the official opening of a communications centre at the Nkosi's Haven Village for HIV positive mothers and children, in Allan Manor, south of Johannesburg.

The brand new BT-sponsored facility provides resident teenagers with videoconferencing technology, enabling them to chat with their mentors and buddies around the world, share photos and video and get help with homework remotely by using modern collaboration tools.

The Nkosi's Haven communications centre has been developed in partnership with Infinite Family, a US-based organisation that connects children infected or orphaned by HIV/Aids with adult video mentors in South Africa and around the world using a secure Internet platform. More than 50 children from the Nkosi's Village will take part in the programme.

The facility will also be used to train up to 30 mothers in computer skills, broadening their chances of finding employment outside of Nkosi's Haven.

Keith Matthews, general manager, BT South Africa, said at the opening ceremony: “BT is proud to be involved in this project as it reaches the most vulnerable in our society. The project enables youngsters to significantly improve their career prospects by acquiring much needed computer skills. It is a logical continuation of our local involvement and builds on the previous work BT has done in the education area.”

Gail Johnson, founding director of Nkosi's Haven, believes the new facility will augment the children's ability to communicate confidently and effectively with their Net Buddies from all walks of life.

Johnson said: “Nkosi's Haven is grateful for BT's generous sponsorship. This new facility will help our kids stay in touch with their Infinite Family-approved mentors, whose life training skills will improve their confidence and will equip them to overcome some of their disadvantages. Internet mentoring provides our kids with an opportunity to make many new friends around the globe and to broaden their horizons, which will assist in making their lives a success.”

Amy Stokes, founder and executive director of Infinite Family, said: "Nkosi's Haven was our first, and is our strongest South African NGO partnership. We love these children like our own and have been thrilled to watch them grow over the past four years from shy and confused teens into confident and vibrant young adults. It is an honour to work and 'expand the family' with Nkosi's Haven and BT."

In addition to providing personal computers and networking equipment valued at R100 000, BT also made available its telepresence room at the company's Bryanston office. Telepresence is a modern videoconferencing technology that creates an illusion of the meeting participants being in the same room, by deploying high-definition video and sound. Infinite Family and Nkosi's Haven will use telepresence to conduct high-level group mentoring.

Keith Matthews added: “BT's South African staff have rallied together to make this facility a success. Two weeks ago, many of our staff volunteered to paint this facility inside and outside. It was a great opportunity for them to interact with the mothers and kids and to try and envisage the challenges that they live with and to appreciate how this new facility will impact on their lives.”


BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and Internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

In the year ended 31 March 2010, BT Group's revenue was lb20.911 million.

British Telecommunications (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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Nkosi's Haven

Inspired by Nkosi Johnson and founded by his foster mother Gail Johnson, Nkosi's Haven and Friends opened its first doors in Berea, Johannesburg in 1999. The Nkosi's Haven projects include: the urban facilities of Nkosi's Haven and Friends and Nashua Nkosi's Haven in Berea, the semi-urban Nkosi's Haven Village in Allan Manor, and the rural Nkosi's Haven Farm near Vereeniging. The Nkosi's Haven projects can accommodate 350 HIV-infected mothers and children. All educational, medical and nutritional needs are met by the projects. Nkosi's Haven is a registered NGO 008 - 995 and is audited by KPMG. The annual financial statements are available on request.

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Infinite Family

Infinite Family is an international organisation that inspires and motivates teens and pre-teens with very limited resources or support networks in South Africa, so they build the confidence, skills and global perspective that promote success. A secure, highly-interactive online environment supports the video conversations between “Net Buddies,” adult video mentors and South African mentees. Almost 300 South African teens and pre-teens have worked with video mentors to improve their academic, communication, technological and life skills since the organisation was founded in 2006 by Amy Stokes. Infinite Family is registered as a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity in the United States. Registration as a South African NGO is pending. Annual financial statements are available upon request.

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