Some of the courses for the 1st semester in the RLabs Academy are coming to an end. I had assigned myself to the Photography class which is facilitated by Ricky Johnson. Ricky has created a very joyful and family orientated atmosphere in this particular class. Everyone seemed to be so at peace with each other and lots of laughs and jokes were shared.I also had the privilege of seeing one of the students showcase their work. She out of her own went along and printed out her pictures she took on an excursion the class had and decided to bring it with her to show the others.
In Saturday’s class Ricky spoke to the students about making money from photography and how one could turn a hobby into a business. All the students were exited at the prospect of earning money from photography. One could literally could see the hope on their faces after hearing this good news.
After the photography class Craig Ross asked me to sit in on the Entrepreneurship class as his students were going to pitch their business ideas later that morning. I saw the opportunity and asked some of the photography students to sit in on the presentations that would be done by the entrepreneurship students so that they could draw some inspiration and ideas from them.
The entrepreneurship students pitched and presented their businesses ideas to the audience and like second nature the photography students (that was now part of the audience) whipped out their cameras and started capturing the event. In this session the photography students could now learn the do’s and don’ts when starting a business as the audience gave feedback and constructive criticism after every business that was presented.
This was all in the spirit of learning and there were no hard feelings about the feedback but everyone understood that this was a learning experience. All- in- all the businesses that was represented was good and well done to the entrepreneurship students for all their hard work they had put into their projects.
THAT IS WHAT I LOVE ABOUT RLABS. AT RLABS WE CREATE A SPACE AND AN ATMOSPHERE FOR LEARNING. A SPACE WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF SHARING YOUR CRAZY IDEAS.
I take my hat off to all the students within the Academy for stepping out and stepping up. You guys do us proud!!
I am excited to see what of this business will be hosted in our Business Incubator ,Innovia .
This blog has been DORMANT/STAGNANT for far too long! Every time when asked by my colleagues (Nathaniel Wagner) about when I was going to update my blog I would always justify by saying that I am too busy. Yes, I am busy but saying that I am too busy to blog is just an over reaction . When we do training with companies and do a Social Media strategy with them , we stress the importance of making time to update and engage on the various Social Media platforms. So why am I not practicing this?
A worse case scenario would be if someone in the training actually went to visit my blog and see that I was not practicing what I was teaching. So….. I have decided to break the ice and start blogging again. Also I realize the responsibility that comes along with this blog post. I know that I will have my colleagues breathing down my neck and reminding me of this blog post once they see no activity on this site. So here is *raises glass* to many more blog post to come!
This is Brent’s Journey and this journey WILL continue
This is an interview I done with: Christian Business Directory while I was in Tanzania.This is my story…
Prayer ends drug misery
A genuine desire for transformation led Brent to the answer
In a neighbourhood where youth believed joining a gang was part of life, Brent Williams fell into this trap which led to drug dealing and violence, before a simple prayer rescued him from suicide.
Previously known as a kind person, he joined a gang and was soon addicted to methamphetamine and acting entirely out of character.
“I started to sell drugs to anybody to support my habit, as well as make a name for myself,” Brent says.
“The drugs I was using started to affect me mentally and that is when I realised that I needed help. But no matter how hard I tried I could not kick the habit.
“I believe that without a doubt that every drug addict out there is screaming out for help. Like them, I could not imagine a life without drugs.
“It just seemed impossible to stop. I believed that I would die a drug addict.”
Deep down he knew he had to kick the habit, as it was affecting loved ones around him.
“My parents reached out to me many times, but I rejected their efforts. I thought they were judging me when in fact all they wanted was to have their son back.”
After one three day drug binge, Brent came home one night so highly under the influence of drugs that he thought his parents were trying to kill him.
Retrieving a long kitchen knife, he nearly stabbed his own mother before something told him to stop.
“The blade literally stopped in front of her face,” Brent recalls. “I held them hostage for about four hours until the police finally arrived.”
Though his parents did not press charges, Brent continued binging on drugs until he was so tired of the never-ending need for money that he felt suicidal.
After announcing to his mother that he was going to kill himself that night, she suggested, “Why don’t you ask Jesus to help you in your situation?”
Brent remembers screaming back, “What can Jesus do for me!? How is He going to help me!?”
Then out of desperation, he thought to himself, “Brent, what do you have to lose?”
Having nowhere else to turn, he knelt by his bed and prayed, “Jesus, if you are real then You will help me with this drug problem I am battling with.”
After this prayer, Brent remembers: “I broke down in tears and wept like I have never wept before.
“At that moment it felt like all desire to ever want to do drugs again vanished!”
His mother asked someone from her church to come. He prayed with Brent and introduced him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Even though I did not know Jesus I knew that it was the right thing to do,” Brent explains. “Here I was putting my trust in someone I could not see and knew nothing about. But it felt right.”
For six months, Brent studied the Bible, learning how Jesus had given His life for him and how to live at a Christian.
Brent then began reaching out to those still caught in the lifestyle he had introduced them to.
“I felt I had betrayed these people, so Bradley, an ex-gang boss, and I went to some of the friends we did drugs with and invited them to a later meeting at a suitable time.
“They expected a prayer meeting, but instead we gently shared with these seven friends that there is a way out of this lifestyle. Since they personally knew us and how bad we were, we said that the changed lives of Bradley and I are testament to what God can do.
“By God’s grace, that evening all of them committed their lives to Christ, trusting in Him as Lord and Saviour.”
These nine men now serve Jesus Christ together doing intensive work in their community.
“This is our way of giving back to society,” Brent says. “I have realised that I may not be able to win over everyone that I have introduced drugs to, but there are so many others that I can reach out to.”
One of Brent’s first prayers was to ask God to restore his relationship with his family. He also immediately went to those he had misled, hurt and sold drugs to and asked for their forgiveness.
“My relationship with my parents has been restored,” Brent enthuses. “We now are once again a happy family and through God’s Word I have learnt the importance of honouring my parents.”
Despite what many believe, some troubles of life remain after becoming a Christian, Brent says.
“The difference is that now I have a Saviour I can ask for help to face them. In the past, I would turn to drugs and try to forget about them.
“Now, I go on my knees and pray, and I have a mentor who I can talk with.
“I am learning and growing spiritually each and every day. I think the important thing is not to condemn yourself when you fail but rather to immediately repent and learn from the mistakes that you have made.”
Brent is engaged to be married to Jessica in December 2012.
There was a keen interest by the Gushit Team from Mbeya after reading a blog post that was written by Jukka Siltanen on the TanzICT blog about the Social Media training we were doing with the community at Kigamboni Community Centre . After discussions with Jukka about them wanting to start something similar in Mbeya we then decided to invite them to the Iringa Living Lab training to get a first hand experience of what the training was all about. After seeing what we were doing in Iringa they asked if we could then come to Mbeya and do similar training with members from their community. Gushit is a company that does web development for companies and they also train up students from the local university. Gushit said that the living lab concept was much needed in the Mbeya area and it was something they have been discussing for a while now.
After discussing this with Kristiina we then agreed that I would go to Mbeya immediately after our 2 weeks training Iringa and start the process of setting up a living lab there. In Mbeya we introduced the Living Lab concept to the community and they were excited to be part of this new initiative. We are had a “Train the trainers “ workshop with this group and they have agreed to transfer what they learnt in this workshop to the rest of the community. Already some of the people in this were speaking about doing training at their universities and with a group of abused women in the Mbeya region. Also in this workshop there was a teacher from a disabled school and he was very excited about starting Social Media training with his scholars.Gushit has agreed that after the Social Media training they would get in someone to do some Entrepreneurship sessions with this group as part of their on- going training and capacity building . Gushit has a lab with 10 computers with a very reliable internet connection that is suitable for on going training with the community.
TanzICT and RLabs will be providing Mbeya Living Lab with ongoing support and are hoping to see more and more training sessions happening in the future.
RLabs and TanzICT started the training the trainers in a computer lab at Tumaini University on 13th August. The participants were ordinary local people who were brave enough to take part in this trainers’ training although it could easily be seen that many of them were very nervous. We always believe that you should have fun while learning and before we started the training we had to put the participants minds at ease letting them know that we would go through the training slowly . We also assured them that there was nothing to be nervous about even if it was there first time operating a computer. We gave them the freedom to stop us at any point if there was something that they did not understand , and we would go over it again until they were clear about it.
It was amazing to see how confident the participants grew after just 2 days of working on the computers and the various Social Media platforms. Their nervous smiles soon turned into joyful laughter. It was good to see that the culture that was being created in this training.It was one of helping each other when the other was in need. Often we would see participants come alongside their fellow students and assist where they could. Unknowingly to them they were slowly becoming social media facilitators that would train many others in their community.
After a week long training with this group it was now time for them to train up others. The idea was for them to now have a week long training with a group of new participants from the community. We told them that we were stepping back and that they were going to have to run all the processes .That mean that they would have to allocate someone to do the welcoming ,presentations,final words etc. They managed to plan for the week and we stood back in amazement as they were running the workshop. We could not believe that this was the same group from the previous week that was so nervous. They were so confident and took lots of pride in their respective roles.Their week long training was a great success and already they have dates for their next session of training. Within a couple of weeks so many people have been empowered and many more will be as the group continues their training sessions with the community.
What amazing progress this is for Iringa Living Lab. We are looking forward to see the great things that will come from this Living Lab who has now given hope to so many. Keep up the good work everyone.
This is an amazing post and success story from one of the participants that attended the workshop hosted by Iringa Living Lab.This post was written by Yusuf one of the champions in Iringa. Source of post: Iringa Living Lab blog.
Wilbert is one of the beneficiaries of a one week social media training that has ended today at Tumaini University College Iringa, organized by the Iringa Living Lab. And what a week it has been for everybody but more so Wilbert who couldn’t hide his excitement.
His story goes as follows. A first born in a family of seventeen, Wilbert lost his father in 2010. As a result, he could not continue with studies after form four, because his mother didn’t have enough money to take him to high school. He is self-employed selling SIM Cards as a mobile agent for TIGO, a mobile telephone operator. TIGO is currently promoting internet services in the country and have tasked their mobile agents to convince as many customers as possible to use TIGO internet on their phones. The problem for Wilbert though has been his inability to use internet, let alone understand what internet is all about.
So, the social media training by Iringa Living Lab came as a big opportunity for him. After just one week, Wilbert has been introduced to basics of social media and gained confidence in the use of email, face book and blogging.
Opportunity knocks once, so goes the saying! After realizing that social media is after all for everyone, Wilbert straight away went back to his business and confidently started persuading his customers to join TIGO internet. This time they responded. In one week, he has managed to convince 48 (yes, forty eight) customers to join TIGO internet, thanks to Wilbert’s newly acquired social media skills and entrepreneurial abilities. And his efforts have not gone unrewarded. He has received his commission from TIGO for connecting so many customers in such a short time.
Wilbert’s story confirms what Iringa Living lab stands for; that new technology can be adopted by all human beings irrespective of social status and it can make a huge difference in their lives. As Iringa Living Lab, we remain committed to produce many more Wilberts and through the efforts and creativity of every one of us, we believe we can make a difference in the lives of others, without waiting for government. It is possible!
What does one do when you about to do a Social Media workshop and you realize that you only have 3 laptops and 11 participants? Well you improvise and you don’t let THAT be a stumbling block for your training session. This happened to me at Kigomboni Community Centre recently. I had to think of a improvise quickly without letting the participants notice that there was a crises at hand.
I took 3 of the participants and had them seated in front of the laptops.The others i had standing at the back observing what I was about to teach the 3 at the laptops. I then went on to explain that after I have showed the first 3 what to do , that they then had to show the next 3 what they have learned and what to do. I was taking a gamble by doing this and did not know what to expect .
I was amazed at the outcome as in this way they were learning so much faster. I mad a short video of the some of the first 3 guys explaining to the next 3 guys what they should do and what processes to follow.
This was the end result:
This is a post written by my Jukka Siltanen , Associate Expert at TanzICT. TanzICT our partners and also the organisation we are doing consultancy work for here in Tanzania. TANZICT is a bilateral project between Tanzania and Finland. They work in the areas of information society, ICT sector & policies, mobile, ICT4D and entrepreneurship.
Read what Jukka wrote:
Following our collaboration with RLabs at the Iringa Living Lab in the beginning of July, Brent Williams has now spent several days over the last two weeks at the Kigamboni Community Center (KCC) on the other side of the ferry.
Brent has been training the community trainers with the ‘RLabs curriculum’ – how to use Gmail, Google Docs, Blogger and other social media tools – and how to pay to the training forward. Only promise participants need to make is that they will use the skills learned for teaching others, who will again train others. This way ICT literacy and awareness will quickly spread in the community. Brent also wrote about of the first training session at KCC in his own blog.
Yesterday was an exciting day as it was the first day for the trainers to start training others, Brent being there only to assist if needed. As Brent said, it didn’t take long for everyone to start helping everyone and it was really great…
Training sessions with Brent at KCC will still continue tomorrow and next week. Then Brent is off to Iringa to continue the “Train-the-Trainers” there. We are also excited about the opportunity and challenge Brent will be undertaking in training a group of deaf trainers at Neema Crafts in Iringa. Returning from Iringa, we’ll head for the first training sessions at the Zanzibar Living Lab, so the RLabs Social Revolution is spreading!
I had something up my sleeve for today’s class ( 17th July ) . Today was not just going to be about sitting behind laptops and doing class the normal way. I had the participants go out in the community and do a couple of interviews with the citizens of Kigamboni. Their task was to tell people about their training they were currently doing (Social Media Workshops) and then ask the people if this training is something they would attend.
The main of this exercise was to show them how to gather/capture content (pics and videos ) using their mobiles phones and then blogging about it at a later stage. At first they were a bit hesitant not knowing how the community would respond but eventually mustered up the courage and went to the streets. Here is one of the blog post written by one of the participants after interviewing people on the street. http://madamsaky.blogspot.com/2012/07/social-media-interview.html
After these interviews with the community they also managed to get participants whom Kigmaboni Community Centre will be training up in Social Media workshop.