As the drug awareness week draws to a close, many people and families will still be facing the battle against addiction. Thanks to a partnership between MXit and RLabs offering youth access to 24 hour information via the Angel service and LIVE drug counselling via the Drug Advice Support initiative on JamiiX thousands of lives are being impacted through the use of technology. Through this Angel service users can have access to information at their fingertips.MXit arguably one of South Africa’s largest Mobile Social Network provides its millions of users FREE access to the RLabs’ Angel Portal. This service is extended to live counselling with counsellors from Impact Direct who achieved the following numbers during the Drug Awareness Week (Monday – Thursday):
Angel Subscribers: 40,500+
Drug Advice Support (DAS) LIVE counselling service on JamiiX: 1283
Number of Messages: 7654
Read more about this exciting new offering that was published today in The Star newspaper.
The collaboration platform Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) has created a live counselling portal, JamiiX, on mobile social network MXit called ‘Angel’. According to RLabs, the portal is for South African youth in need of substance abuse counselling, and is being released in conjunction with Drug Awareness Week (21 to 27 June). Currently Angel have over 40,000 subscribers with more than 1,000 of those subscribers accessing the LIVE Counselling services via their mobile phones. More about this collaboration can be read in the IT Web (22 June 2010) article.
With the celebration of drug awareness week in conjunction with MXit, RLabs increased its counsellor capacity and had a massive growth in the Angel user numbers. Angel is an information portal providing support to users in the areas of substance abuse, abuse, depression, stress and coping. Today the Angel information service passed the 40,000 subscriber barrier and in conjunction with RED HIV/AIDS information service (60,000+ users) by Cell Life and our various Mobile Counselling services (30,000+ subscribers accross services) RLabs with its partners have reached over 130,000 users via mobile phones for Social Change. This is only the beginning as many more services will be deployed over the next few weeks (via MXit and JamiiX) to bring about social change in Communities in Tension.
This week is sustance abuse week and RLabs have partnered with MXit to bring a LIVE counselling support service to the 28,000 plus subscribers to our Angel Information Service. Today in our 3 hour service the following statistics were achieved with 8 counsellors:
- Number of Conversations: 385
- Number of Messages: 2867
- Average Conversations per counsellor: 44
We will expand the number of counsellors over the next few days as we are expecting an increase in number of conversations. Well done to the team who took care of the people in need today. Most of the conversations were depression and abuse related once again proving that we need to expand the mobile counselling services to deal with other social issues. The technology we are using to manage the conversations is JamiiX.
Another exciting project that RLabs have been involved in has been the Angel on MXit project where we offer people support and advice in the areas of substance abuse, abuse, depression, debt counselling,stress and coping via their mobile phones. This partnership with MXit Lifestyle will allow us to scale our services and also provide much needed access to all MXit users. The Angel project allows MXit users to “find their Angel” where they can get help for the social issue they are dealing with.
Over the next few weeks we will increase the capacity of our mobile counselling support centre and grow it to support thousands of MXit users across South Africa. Since starting our new campaign yesterday we’ve already attracted more than 23,000 users to the service.
The collaboration between RLabs and Cape Community Newspapers to bring Mobile Journalism to the community have been going well with the last few weeks having a focus on technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging to share stories via their mobile phones. The learners from 3 high schools in Cape Town have been taught some basic journalism skills the first few months ranging from writing, editing, ethics to photography. The next few weeks we will focus on how the learners can use their mobile phones to share stories in real time using available technologies such as Social Networking tools.
After an exciting week of preparing for the JamiiX launch we are now in the process of migating our mobile counselling services over to JamiiX (See Image: DAS counsellor practising on JamiiX). The first service to move over will be our 3 year old Drug Advice Support service boasting a current total of 15,000 subscribers since its inception. Will already more than 3 million messages and over 200,000 conversations it has been one of our most effective services in conjunction with the MXit supported Angel Bot. We are definitely looking forward to this new journey with DAS as we will be able to provide more support and better performance to community members in need seeking help using the services being provided via the JamiiX system.
The RLabs mobile counselling service and our JamiiX technology featured in the Netherlands daily paper – De Pers. You can read the article below (in Dutch):
“Vanuit een gebouwtje in de Cape Flats, een arm gedeelte van Cape Town dat gecontroleerd wordt door gangs, chatten hulpverleners – noem ze helpchatters – elke dag met jongeren. Met jongens en meisjes die uit alle hoeken van Zuid-Afrika vanachter hun mobieltje over hun problemen chatten. Over een verkrachting, ‘gedoe’ in hun gang, geweld.
Computers hebben de jongeren meestal niet, bellen is te duur: blijft chatten via een mobieltje over. Want een mobieltje met beltegoed, dat heeft vrijwel iedereen in het land. En een uurtje internetten via zo’n mobieltje, dat kost niet al te veel, zegt Marlon Parker, een 32-jarige man uit Kaapstad, die hielp de chatdienst op te zetten. Inmiddels hebben 15.000 jongeren zich ingeschreven. ”
This week I was very honoured to be nominated again as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young People in South Africa. The article below can also be read online:
“Awareness of the number of people in his community — Silvertown on the Cape Flats — in need of social upliftment motivated Marlon Parker to become a social entrepreneur.
Parker, who has a master’s degree in information technology (cum laude) and is now working on his PhD at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology where he lectures in information technology, uses technology to strengthen the community.
About three years ago, in partnership with a community organisation, Impact Direct, he started up an organisation called Reconstructed Living Labs (Rlabs) in order to “reconstruct communities through innovation”. Rlabs uses social media to help community members affected by substance abuse and gang violence to tell their stories, and use those stories to “share hope with other people out there”.”
A few weeks ago we had the privilege of hosting the amazing team (Gareth Mitchell and Colin Grant) of BBC Digital Planet at RLabs. It was a real honour having them with us and for the hours they spent on the Cape Flats made a real impact on us. They did some interviews all over Cape Town with a number of innovators and amazing people doing great work in the technology space. We were also fortunate to have our very own Brent Williams on the show and I had a little cameo appearance with JamiiX. You can listen (RLabs features 17:00 onwards) to the show online