While Felicia didn’t know much about 4IR last year, along with more than 100 of her peers – women over 50 years of age living in some of the most crime-ridden areas of the Western Cape – she can now not only code successfully but also train other people in her community.
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The unlikely demographic to traditionally be associated with technology training, have been empowered by an innovative new project: Mamas4Coding.
Tangible Africa, an engagement project of the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department and the Leva Foundation, along with their Cape Town non-profit partner, Youth Media Movement, started recruiting mamas in November last year and have been blown away by the excitement of the women.
“The mamas were trained on RANGERS in small groups, and all came together recently before they will now start reaching out to young people in their communities. The target is to reach 10 000 young people,” said Prof Jean Greyling, Tangible Africa Founder and Associate Professor at the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department.
TANKS and RANGERS are Tangible Africa’s flagship coding applications that are played offline, using minimal resources. Greyling thanked the corporate sponsor of Mamas4Coding, AWS In Communities.
“We thank AWS In Communities for their continued support of Tangible Africa’s efforts to demystify coding and particularly their enthusiasm in reaching these new communities and women.”
George Chirume, Tangible Africa’s Regional Coordinator and Trainer in Cape Town, and Marshall Nelson, Managing Director of Youth Media Movement, are the dynamic team spearheading the Mamas4Coding project.
Nelson, who during one of his recruitment drives in Philippi earlier this month was robbed, remains undeterred to continue making a difference.
“While it was not a nice experience, we will go back and still offer the training to the community. This way they will learn that robbing will not solve their problems but the skills they will learn, can provide new opportunities and hope,” said Nelson.
The power of hope is already visible with the impact the training has had on the women, said Chirume, who is a trained Maths teacher.
“The mothers are unemployed and live in areas with a lot of crime, drugs, and unemployment. The coding training is bringing hope to these women and uplifting them into the 21st century. They can now go out with confidence as coding facilitators to train the children in their communities,” said Chirume.
Matilda Goliath, who runs a soccer club in Mitchells Plain, said the training will assist her greatly in keeping the children – many of whom are orphaned – in her community off the streets and busy with something educational and empowering.
Patricia Damons, 65, from Eastridge said she didn’t know she could “count, do puzzles and code…the programme was beautiful and well planned.”
Retha Skeffers from Rocklands said she was very “thankful to be part of this group which let me realise that I am not forgotten and still needed by the next generation.”
“We are older… we are mamas, but we are not forgotten – this was very exciting training. Thank you for the opportunity,” said Isabelle Julies from Mitchells Plain.