Tag Archives: Mobile Counselling

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

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JamiiX: Using Mobile Phones and Cloud Computing to Change Lives


The last week has been exciting at RLabs as their JamiiX counselling team have been working hard in changing the world one message at a time. JamiiX is a cloud-based solution allowing its users to manage conversations via various Social Network Chat and Instant Messengers. Typically described as a “Contact Centre on the Go”. During a session the following is achieved per hour:

– Each advisor have an average of 40 users (250 – 300 users are assisted per hour)
– Average of 20,000 messages are exchanged per hour
– 5% of conversations during a session will receive an offline referral
– 2 out of 5 Users are new to the service
– Bulk of our users communicate via Mobile Chat platform MXit

What really excites us is when we hear stories of people whose lives are being changed because of the members of the community who sacrificially offer their time to help those in need. Today was another such day where one of the JamiiX Mobile Counsellors met with a subscriber to the service offline for further support. Well done to all at RLabs for the amazing work you are doing and we celebrate with you and the rest of the online community through the BEES Awards finalist nomination dedicated to you.

Source: RLabs

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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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RLabs, JamiiX, MobieG and “The Art Of Mobile Counselling”

Below is a guest blog post by RLabs (Jul 24, 2010)

Two of our team members Craig and Brent was out in Johannesburg for 3 days to do training with MobieG. The purpose of this training was to equip  the MobieG team to use  JamiiX, the web based tool allowing you to manage multiple conversations from different Social Networks and Instant Messaging platforms. Jamiix is the platform witch MobieG will do the mobile counselling from. The training also covered the topics “Art of Mobile Counselling” and “The Mind Of a Mobile Counselor.

The launch of MobieG mobile counselling service was on Sunday and to get access to their services click  here “Caring in a non caring world”

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JamiiX used for RLabs Drug Advice Support mobile counselling service

Our young people’s lives are being destroyed by drugs and alcohol and it seems as if there is no hope for them, but here is a story about an innovation that emerged from The Cape Flats offering advice and support on there mobile phones. Amazing isn’t it? Help at their fingertips, literally!

This post is sourced from Technology For Community Empowerment blog (10 July)

Latest research by RLabs and the JamiiX Mobile Drug Counselling support system provided the following evaluation:

– In practical terms, the advisors have the capacity to help more people (n = 27) in a two-hour session than advisors at helplines (n = 4).20 The DAS system aggregates the conversations for the advisors, allowing them to respond to the requests more easily and faster.
– The DAS system enables multiple advisors to assist during a given session.
– When an advisor does not have the necessary experience or skills to deal with a case, it can easily be transferred to someone with the necessary skills.
– The advisor receiving the reassigned conversation can view previous conversations with the client, so questions need not be duplicated.
– The advisor can refer a person in need to any other organisation, and maintain a help directory of available services.
– The service proved to be particularly useful for families of drug users, and they were offered family sessions and help if required

The full research paper was publsihed in the South African Family Practice journal.

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