South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain is one of the 28 Finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature, and this has inspired the Vote for Table Mountain campaign to reach out to underprivileged communities in and around Cape Town by providing a platform to learn about the internet.
The campaign has generated almost 2,500 new email accounts and organisers estimate that by 11/11/11, the date voting for the New7Wonders of Nature ends, it will have introduced 5,400 learners to email and opened their eyes to the power of the internet. The campaign organisers have teamed up with Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs), a New7Wonders of Nature Global Voting Participation Partner, and together they are visiting schools and institutions in underprivileged communities and allowing them the use of laptops and internet access.
Learners are shown how to vote online for the New7Wonders of Nature so that they too can be part of the global election. Each lesson involves students receiving a crash course on the web and how it works, as well as an explanation of what an email is and why people need an account. RLabs informs students about the Vote for Table Mountain campaign, as well as the other New7Wonders contestants and their countries. Their first interaction on the Web is voting for Table Mountain, allowing them to walk away with an email address and a vote.
“This group effort has changed the landscape when it comes to youth being introduced to new technologies,” Rene Parker, Director of RLabs says. “This has been achieved with the shared partnership between the Vote for Table Mountain Campaign and RLabs.”
To date, RLabs has done 24 sessions in the Western Cape, creating 2,460 new mail accounts in the process. Four sessions are planned each week until voting closes on 11/11/11.
And in a show of activism for the Vote for Table Mountain campaign, Whizz ICT Centre, headed by Tembinkosi Qondela, have also made a significant contribution by turning their facility in Khayelitsha into a voting station. This has allowed many Khayelitsha residents, and learners from schools including Nolungile Primary, to create their own email accounts and become familiar with the internet and online voting.
“The Outreach programs are an integral part of the Vote for Table Mountain campaign that enables us to leave a positive legacy behind,” said Campaign Manager Fiona Furey. “RLabs and Whizz are helping us reach the youth who do not have internet access. When Table Mountain is one of the 7Wonders of Nature (God willing) they will have a sense of ownership, knowing it is because they voted and made it happen.”