We all have an innate need to feel connected – to our purpose, to our loved ones, to our community, and to the rest of the world. SEACOM uses its resources and reach to respond to this need in some of the most vulnerable communities in South Africa.
Among its various Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, SEACOM is honoured to provide Internet services to Infinite Family, a South African video mentoring organisation that motivates South African teens to transform their lives by creating their own life-changing opportunities through choices, actions and hard work at school.
Infinite Family is a successful global mentoring organisation that uses technology to connect adults from around the world with pre-teens and teens. In the absence of parents, volunteer mentors share their experience and expertise as role models to offer support, direction and guidance. In so doing, mentees are inspired and motivated to develop the confidence, skills and global worldview to build a better life. “Our mission is to promote self-reliance,” states Amy, the founder, president and CEO of Infinite Family. “We aim to augment what’s taught in the classroom and the home to help develop resilient, responsible, and resourceful students as they prepare for their lives as young adults and beyond,” she explains.
To date, Infinite Family has worked in eight townships and rural communities in four South African provinces. Infinite Family LaunchPads are set up as computer labs in recycled containers. Here, mentors from anywhere in the world are connected with mentees in real-time video mentoring sessions. Without this vital connection and hope, their visions of the future are obscured by their needs of today and their fears for tomorrow. “We currently concentrate our LaunchPads in Khayelitsha, Alexandra, and Soweto to create a concentration of successful South African teens that will, in turn, inspire others,” says Amy. In this way, the Infinite Family Video Mentor inspires their Net Buddy to work towards building a more economically stable future, and encourages them to continue with their schooling.
SEACOM’s investment in the initiative involves a 300mb fibre Internet connection to the LaunchPad in Alexandra. This has helped to improve the video quality of the sessions, while enabling greater levels of interaction. A secondary benefit has been the ability for the Net Buddies to work outside and practice social distancing, while remaining connected. “Expanding our video mentoring services from one-to-one relationships to one-to-many sessions has really helped the students who do not yet feel ready for one-to-one discussions exclusively in English,” Amy enthuses. “In addition, we’ve been able to extend access to our skills development curricula to Realogile High School students,” she adds. The peripheral benefit of Internet access for the wider community group is an added plus.
Looking ahead, the intention is for the SEACOM fibre cable to supply connectivity for many more students to do essential homework and research online at the LaunchPad, as the local school does not have Internet connectivity for its students. Of the SEACOM investment, Amy says, “We hope that with SEACOM’s support we can dramatically increase the number of students inspired to work harder, pass their matric with exemption, and advance to the additional studies and job opportunities that this creates.” Says Steve Briggs, Chief Commercial Officer at SEACOM, “We are so proud to contribute to the valuable work that Infinite Family does. SEACOM is committed to giving back to South African society by supporting with connectivity wherever we can.”
The ability of Infinite Family to achieve their objectives was never in doubt, but with SEACOM’s involvement, their powerful work with Alexandra’s teens has been amplified to reach many more children and enable access to far more skills development resources. Amy is emphatic about the SEACOM partnership: “Without it, we would still be a long way from realising our dream of preparing and advancing ALL of Realogile High School and the surrounding schools’ 12th grade students to tertiary studies and good jobs.”
“Together with SEACOM, we want Alexandra teens to smash local cycles of poverty and violence through education and incomes! This is the difference between a child who merely survives and one who thrives,” Amy concludes with pride.