Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Prayer ends drug misery

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

The morning I took this pic I was high on meth

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.

Me training my mom during one of the Social Media classes I teach at RLabs

“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Mbeya Living Lab – RLabs and TanzICT

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.

This was the 1st certificate this gentlemen has ever received in his life. He has never worked on a computer before and his progress during the training was amazing.This is our way of acknowledging him.

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.

 

ONE WEEK OF SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING TRANSFORMS PARTICIPANT’S BUSINESS!

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.

Wilbert at computer

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!

ICT transferal on a grassroots level- Kigamboni Living Lab

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:

 

 

Kigamboni Community Center now applying “Train-the-Trainer” skills

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 testing the driver's seat on the bajaj he rides to Kigamboni Community CenterBrent testing the driver’s seat on the bajaj he rides to Kigamboni Community Center

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… :)

Trainers training the first participants - click to see more picturesTrainers training the first participants – click to see more pictures

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!

 

Kigamboni “Train The Trainer” Social Media Workshop

The “Train The Trainer” Social Media workshop at Kigamboni Community Centre has begun! RLabs and TanzICT whom is conducting the training went out to the rural village on Monday (16th July) to do the first session.  This training will happen over a period of 3 weeks and two times  per week. It was good meeting all the participants and it was good to see the founding members of the Community Centre attending this training as well.

We started off the session explaining the importance of this training and that this training they would receive will not just be for their benefit but for the benefit of the rest of the community. We emphasized the importance of paying it forward and how they would be the champs to empower  this community through the use of innovation and technology.

First I did a talk about the various Social Media tools and how one could maximize them. After that it was time to ” get their hands dirty” and start signing up for the various tools. Day one consisted of them only signing up to Gmail and exploring the different functions this emailing platform had to offer them.It was important to show them the many functions that this platform had to offer and that it was not just used send emails back and forth from.

After seeing what all they could do with their email account everyone was exited and hyped up. They all said that they were looking forward to the next session and to see what more the world of Social Media has to offer them. They are fast learners and their enthusiasm just makes the training so  much easier . Next I will be taking them through the world of blogging and speaking to them more about story -telling. ”

The Social Revolution in KIGAMBONI has begun!!!

Social Media Training for the deaf and disabled

image source

While I am based in Tanzania I will be representing RLabs and going around the country doing Social and New Media training with various groups and organisations . RLabs is doing consultancy work for  TanzICT , our partners here in Tanzania. One of the next block of training will be  with a group from  Neema Crafts ,in Iringa.

A bit more about Neema Crafts:

Neema Crafts Centre was founded in 2003 by the Diocese of Ruaha, to provide handi-crafts training and much-needed employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Iringa region of Tanzania, and to change negative attitudes towards them in local society. There’s a great stigma attached to having a disability in Tanzania, and the centre provides dignity and hope for many people who previously relied on street begging or were hidden away at home, unable to support themselves and their families. Neema is place of creativity, compassion and hope where lives are transformed everyday. The centre also includes a physiotherapy unit for disabled children, an award winning cafe entirely staffed by deaf people, a welcoming guest house which is the first in the world to be run by people with disabilities, a conference room and internet cafe.

Training:

The training will have a strong social and new media component (Google,Google Docs, Gmail , Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc)  where these tools are used in the form of digital story telling.

We will be going to Iringa from the 13th – 27th August to do training with the group from Neema Crafts and then also a group from Iringa Living Lab. Stay tuned as we gear up for this very very exiting block of training.

 

 

RLabs and TanzICT visits Kigamboni Community Centre

Jukka and me with some if the little ones

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting Kigamboni Community Centre to go and see the great work that  they are doing there.TanzICT and RLabs are seeing how they  can assist this organisation by  providing training to some of the core team members.Also TanzICT is looking at providing data and data modems to make this training possible.

 

Aim:

The aim of the training is to transform this community through innovation and by providing citizens opportunities to be part of a social and economic transformation.To make use of the train the trainer approach and provide new local champions for the community.

Training:

The training will have a strong social and new media component (Google,Google Docs, Gmail , Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc)  where these tools are used in the form of digital story telling.

It will be also be used as a breeding ground for new champions from the community to be birthed.

Will also provide the participants with innovative ways in its “undisciplined” training method using a “Play & Learn” approach.

Kristiina Lahde (TanzICT) discussing the way forward with Richard Gorvett

Kigamboni Community Centre currently has a small computer lab with 3 operating desktop computers. This however will not stop us from going in to do the training with them. There is so much that the management of this wonderful organisation wants to do but resources seems to be a bit of a challenge at this point.

If there is anyway that you or your organisation can assist with laptops,pc’s or in any other way then please contact the centre. (info@kccdar.com )

 

Iringa Living Lab kicks off

This weekend RLabs together with TanzICT headed off to Iringa to do  Social Media and Facilitation training  with some of the key role players from the community.

Yusuf ,one of the locals, and also the champion for the Living Lab initiative there did a good job  of getting all the people together at the Tumaini campus where the training was conducted.The training was done in  English but had to be translated into kiSwahili .  For some of the participants present it was the first time using or working on a computer and it first they were a bit anxious and did not know what to expect. After signing  most of the participants up for their first email address on Gmail, their anxiousnous  soon developed into much excitement and enthusiasm.

At first we had some problems with connectivity and power but that did not stop us from going ahead with the training.We simply did something which Kristiina Lahde  calles the “Analogue” version of Gmail ( see picture below). This proved to be of great help as participants came back to the flip charts later to take notes even after we have finished our training.  We will now be conducting our other training in Iringa with a projector and the “Analogue” version as well.

Most of them said that that they thought that the Internet and computers were only for the elite. This is exactly the people that RLabs are looking at working with.People that needs hope and to now that there is so much good and ability  within them that needs to be discovered. We will be going back to Iringa to do some more training in August.This time around the goal is  to train up trainers so that they could train up the rest of the community in the future even if we not there.

We are looking forward to see how this all unfolds and to see what a great Living Lab will turn out to be.

 

 

 

Breaking technological barriers-Social media excite rural Tanzania

This is a blog post by Yusuf.One of our RLabs champs in Iringa.He will be spear- heading the Living Lab initiative there:Read more about what he has to say:

 

 

Participants are eager to learn more about the world of Social Media

What started as a far fetched dream is finally coming to reality as TANZICT and RLabs have partnered with Iringa Living Lab to initiate social innovations that can impact people’s lives in a myriad of ways. Iringa Living Lab is one of the pioneer living labs in Tanzania. Yesterday, the first community training took place on how to use social media to expand their social networks and benefit from the opportunities of globalization and technology.

There was much excitement as some participants touched the computer for the first time. Indeed it was a Eureka moment for many who had always thought computers are for a select class of people. The training took place at Tumaini University, one of the key partners in the Iringa Living Lab.

Brent, a consultant from RLabs shared his story of how his life was transformed thanks to RLabs that opened doors of hope to people in his community who had lost direction. His story touched everyone in the room.

There is now new energy.

What a difference Hope makes!

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