Vote for Table Mountain reaches out

21 September 2011

South Africa's iconic Table Mountain is one of 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, 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 Vote for Table Mountain campaign has already generated around 2500 new e-mail accounts, and the campaign organisers estimate that by 11 November the date that voting for the New 7 Wonders of Nature closes the campaign will have introduced 5400 underprivileged South African pupils to e-mail and opened their eyes to the power of the internet.

The campaign organisers have teamed up with Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs), a non-profit organization that equips and empowers communities through technology, and together they are visiting schools and institutions in underprivileged communities in and around Cape Town and allowing them the use of laptops and internet access.

Crash course, e-mail address, vote

"Each lesson involves students receiving a crash course on the web and how it works, as well as an explanation of what an e-mail is and why people need an account," the organisers said in a statement last week.

"Thereafter, RLabs informs students about the Vote for Table Mountain campaign, as well as the other New 7 Wonders contestants and their countries. Their first interaction on the web is voting for Table Mountain, allowing them to walk away with an e-mail address and a vote."

RLabs director Rene Parker commented: "This group effort has changed the landscape when it comes to youth being introduced to new technologies."

To date, RLabs has done 24 sessions in the Western Cape, tallying 3231 votes and creating 2460 new e-mail accounts in the process. With four sessions planned per week until voting closes on 11/11/11, they will amass an estimated 7000 votes in total for the campaign.

Khayelitsha voting station

And in a show of true 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 pupils from schools including Nolungile Primary, to create their own e-mail accounts, become familiar with the internet and vote online for free.

"The outreach programmes 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 7 Wonders of Nature (God willing), they will have a sense of ownership, knowing it is because they voted and made it happen.

"Table Mountain has a great chance of making it into the final 7, but the public need to continue voting as there are only a few weeks of the competition left," Furey added.

South Africans can vote for Table Mountain by SMSing "Table" to 34874 at R2 an SMS, or visiting www.votefortablemountain.com, or voting via Mxit for only 20 cents. Voting via SMS or Mxit enables people to vote as many times as they like.

SAinfo reporter

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Learning by doing: Vote For Table Mountain campaign manager Fiona Furey and RLabs show pupils how to vote for Table Mountain (Photo: Vote for Table Mountain)

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