Without a doubt, a lack of access to information remains a serious problem in rural and marginalised communities. This is because it affects people’s ability to claim their rights and it is a barrier to access to opportunity, amongst many more negative attributes that go along with it.
As part of our efforts to raise awareness about this community initiative we have going in Rooigrond, we started dabbling in ICTs, which we found to be a powerful tool in many ways. This started us thinking about mobile phones and the possibilities they hold- particularly with the issue of access to information-, as even the most basic of phones lately are WAP enabled. However, not being very ‘tech-savvy’ ourselves, we had all these ideas and questions, but were unable to discuss them and get any direction on which path to take. This changed however upon our meeting David Bernard, CEO of SANGONeT- an organisation aimed at empowering non-profits through the ICTs, at the North-West University.
After listening to Mr. Bernard’s presentation on the potential role social media can play in non-profits, amongst many other uses of technology in communities such as ours. We finally were given a chance to share our thoughts on the matter, especially our concerns about the lack of information in the North-West province, which have prevented organisations and communities from exploiting the potential of ICTs. Having shared our views and finally having our many questions answered enabled us to really get going on our plans of enabling the community to access information; which has the potential to assist not only in allowing residents to claim their rights, but also to develop themselves and the community as a whole.
We have since been on a learning journey, in an effort to seek out ways to fully maximise the manner in which we utilise ICTs for the better of the Rooigrond Informal Settlement. Though not always easy, there is no doubt that progress has been made in many ways, with some great tales coming from residents about the difference that has been made due to the opportunity to access information. We have also discovered great innovation within the community, as people share their own ideas on ways in which the ICTs can be used. No doubt that it is a journey we will see through…