Tag Archives: DAS

How Twitter is changing lives on the Cape Flats and beyond

Over the last two years Twitter had a very big impact on the lives of many in the RLabs community on the Cape Flats. The journey with this micro-blogging platform started in 2008 when a number of young men and women were introduced to Twitter for the first time by Rafiq Philips from Web Addicts fame. Most of this group were ex-drug addicts and ex-gang members who found Twitter to be an outlet where they can share their voices of Hope. In the beginning stages all the tweets were between the group encouraging one another and telling their stories of hope to the rest of their followers. What we saw was that the lives of those tweeting had a major transformation not just by the stories (See Video below) they were sharing but also having an impact offline. Instead of only using twitter as a news, media and sharing online tool it was also used as a gateway to positive messages that the group could disseminate offline with family, friends and wider community. These ex-gangsters were now calling themselves “Twitter Gangsters” also known as “Twitsters” even had the opportunity to share some of their stories at a World Bank event. One of the “Twitsters” (aka Brent Williams – no relation to Evan Williams) who was an ex-gang leader said he has more followers on Twitter than what he had when he was leading a notorious gang and he can now through Twitter leave positive footprints in the community.

It did not stop there, the group who were trained in using Twitter then started the Twitter School where they empowered women in the community to share their stories and encouraging one another. These Twitter Schools also moved into public areas where Social Media Surgeries were hosted to share twitter with community members.

This gave birth to the world’s FIRST Social Media Factory, where trained community members who are unemployed are given opportunities to create extra income through being part of a team managing social media strategies for businesses, organisations, schools and public figures. This meant that those organisations who are in need of having their Social Media Strategy being managed or outsourced not only get access to these services at very good prices but also the teams implementing these strategies will consist of a mix of experts and community members like our Twitsters and Twitter moms. Exciting when a housewife who have no other form of income can use her Twitter skills and manage the Twitter stream for an organisation via her mobile phone. She would then be rewarded for each tweet thus being able to make a basic living via the Social Media Factory system. No wonder one of these moms shared some insight to why she believe all women should be on twitter (See video below).

However what really got us excited was when we were able to give people in need access to our advice and support services via Twitter. This meant that access to LIVE support in the area of substance abuse, abuse, depression, stress and coping and debt counselling were now only a tweet or instant message away. These services extended beyond just the Cape Flats and reached the rest of Southern Africa.

Although most of the users accessing these services do so via Mobile IMs such as MXit the opportunity to reach wider audiences with Twitter has assisted us reaching close to 200,000 users to our mobile support services. The integration of Twitter with JamiiX gives us hope that we would be able to extend what we are doing to other parts of the world and changing it one tweet at a time….

Source: Technology For Community Empowerment



Filed under Innovation, Mobi, News, Social Media

RLabs Mobile Services

October has been a busy month providing support to thousands via the RLabs mobile services (Angel on MXit and DAS@jamiix.im). Both these services are unique in that it offer subscribers to these channels a wide range of social services that they can access. Angel (Sponsored by MXit and RLabs) is an information portal that provides its users access to information related to substance abuse, stress and coping, depression, debt counselling, educational opportunities etc. The DAS@jamiix.im contact is a LIVE support service provided by RLabs and Impact Direct (Sponsored by JamiiX) where users can have real time conversations with trained counsellors in a number of social areas.

October has been a very busy month on these services and we just want to share some of our activity via these offerings. In total both these RLabs services have 109,107 subscribers indicating the power of using mobile phones to provide social services to communities. In addition to the RLabs mobile services other offerings such as HIV, Debt and Lifeskills which is supported by RLabs serves a further 87,344subscribers bringing the total number of people being supported via the mobile channels to 196,451.

Some demographics of interest to the above services show that the age group with the highest number of users subscribing to the RLabs services are users aged 18-25. See graph below for distribution of our subscribers by age:

The subscribers with regard to gender is distributed evenly (See graph below):

The Top 5 social services most frequently accessed by the mobile subscribers are:

1) Stress
2) Depression
3) Drug Addiction
4) Educational Services
5) Relationship related

The total number of interactions during October for the Angel and DAS services were 512,791 and proves the increased activity of engagement using low cost chat platforms such as MXit.

Source: Technology for Community Empowerment


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RLabs Finalist for International Award

Since 2008 the RLabs team were involved in using mobile technology to provide counselling support services to thousands of youth at risk accross Southern Africa (Read more…). It was with great excitement when we got feedback today that this RLabs initiative is a finalist for The Best Use of Mobile for The Bees Awards. The Bees Awards is the 1st international social media competition for marketing and communications professionals. Brands and agencies from all around the world were invited to share their best work and the finalists were selected by a jury composed of 20 renowned social media experts from 13 different countries.

To be a finalist for this award is such a great honour and privilege considering that about 74% of the entries were from large brands coming from 21 countries. This recognition by the international social media community will continue encouraging the RLabs family and community to continue pushing boundaries in using Social Media for Social Change.

The Awards Ceremony will be held in San Francisco on November 9, 2010 and will be live streamed.

Source: Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs)

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Drug Advice and Support hits 100k

In 2008 I was part of a team that launched a online mobile chat platform for drug users. This chat platform gives them an opportunity  to chat with the services’”counsellors” when they feel the urge to use drugs. Last week the RLabs Social Services broke the 100,000 users barrier on both the Drug Advice and Support (DAS) and Angel platform. The Angel service is a information service that runs 24 hours a day providing users access to relevant info in the area of drug addiction, abuse, depression and stress.

How to access Angel on MXit:

– Go to Menu
– Contacts
– Add Contacts
– MXit Services
– Add the following (Service Name: Angel, Nickname: Angel)
– Accept Contact

The software being use for the Drug Advice and Support is JamiiX

Source: kingross


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