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