Maker faire Africa! Ghana 14 – 16 Aug 2009

Posted July 11th, 2009 in afrigadget, Technology & Innovation by Frerieke

The great people of  Afrigadget (I am a contributor to this site and responsible for mentoring the newest South African youth to become contributors as well) are co-organizing the first event celebrating the innovators and inventors in Africa this August at Maker Faire Africa ( – it’s a 3 day event bringing together artists, inventors and all manner of ingenious people in Accra, Ghana.

By the way…. see this ball in the banner? Check out Tash her story on the Afrigadget site here: football handmade in south-africa

That was the first grassroots reporter contribution of the South African COSAT students. Keep on checking out their own website:

Wouldn’t it be great to get those COSAT learners to Ghana??? hmmm…. donations welcome…

Bridging the digital divide one blogpost at a time….

Posted May 12th, 2009 in Technology & Innovation by Frerieke

Day 133_ day of fame

By Frerieke van Bree

Those are the words of Laurie, a reporter for, South Africa’s biggest news site. She interviewed me about the Students for humanity project. It is great, a little exposure for the Khayelitsha kids… I keep on saying: my goal is to make those students famous. Famous, and leaders to their community, role models to others. Thanks for the interview Laurie . I think I’ll adapt your words, I like them.

Find the interview online here

2010 is around the corner. Will the soccer worldcup really make a substantial difference in the lives of South African people? Will the country’s economy grow? How does the country prepare for this big event? is South Africa on track? How do you prepare? The COSAT learners (underprivileged students in Township Khayelitsha) have found a way to help you prepare in a great way…


one blogpost at the time…one podcast in a week…one Xhosa (local African language) lesson for you…and a new topic every week! Fun!

Center of Science and Technology: Help me make these students famous!

Posted December 30th, 2008 in Leadership Academy, Technology & Innovation by Frerieke

By Frerieke van Bree


Because they deserve it! because we can.


starting this 2009 with:

– making a book with all their produced material in 2008 (slide shows a preview into the book)

– teaching the students more leadership skills

– teaching blogging, video editing, mobile reporting

– help the students start their own site: students4humanity and make a difference in their community

What for?

To raise money and awareness to allow those bright minds to individually thrive in life, in University, in their community and on a global scale!

Students are the voice of tomorrow. Youngsters are the spring of the nation! kids are the leaders of the next generation!

The COSAT learners are the most amazing and inspiring individuals I met in my life! I have learned a lot about myself via them, and still do.
Youth empowerment in the Townships of South Africa is needed. Poverty is a daily issue. Role models are needed! Guest teachers wanted!
Connections wanted! Resources welcome! Donations lovely!

Those students want to learn, they want to make a difference, they want to lead by serving others, they want to set the example in the new South Africa, be part of transformation in Africa! All they need is opportunities and Eye-openers to see the opportunities. Those students are the change you want to see in the world!

The work the students have done in the ‘art and leadership’ classes in 2008 is amazing: photographs, artworks and essays to show you what matters to them. Those 15 year old individuals have each found their mission in life. Let them inspire you to stay true to your own mission! Help me get this book published! Help me get their site online! Help me get the message out there, really…help me get those students and this school (the only school in South Africa with IT as a matric subject, with such an amazing free education!) be famous! Be creative in your cooperation!

help me with this list:

– a publish house for the 200 pages visual book
– a WordPress MU guru, willing to set up the students4humanity with buddypress and mobilepress applications
– designers (for the book, the site, marketing material)
– user-interface designer (for the site)
– prepaid cards (to let the students be online on their mobile phone)
– Mobile phones
– IT teachers (anybody into mobile applications? those students do not have computers at home!)
– role models (black intellectuals… we want your motivational talk!)
– a fast internet connection at the school
– bloggers/online media guru’s/marketing consultants we want some courses!
– a schoolbus and a driver!

Ok, I can keep on going. Dream big is what one of the South African bloggers and online professionals, Darren Smith, told me to do.
Hey all you South African bloggers, online professionals, companies, intellectuals, connected ones, tech-savvy people…make sure the next Wordcamp SA is one with lots of color, representative for your country. Make sure the whole South African population is on top of the innovation, online applications, mobile technology. Make sure there will not be another heated discussion about the color of the South African blogger. Invest in the future! Be the change you want to see in the world!

Hey you international community, all you clever entrepreneurs, policy makers,  …the world is your playground. Make sure everybody is having fun! That includes the ones that are not part of your conversation, innovation, partnerships, the moment. Be bold. 2009 is waiting for you..

Mobile connection with family living in extreme poverty in Mozambique

Posted December 10th, 2008 in development, Technology & Innovation by Frerieke

By Frerieke van Bree

I just spoke to Nico, my young friend in Mozambique. He goes to grade 10 (15 years old). He and his family live on a small farm near Prado de Xhai Xhai. They live in extreme poverty (< 1 dollar a day), but are happy! Nico is a very clever and hard working young man, who told me he really needs a bicycle to go to school. His family shares a mobile phone. I have been trying to reach them the past weeks and finally got through now, so great! It is just incredible to know that this young man (Nico) has the ability to reach out and create possibilities through new technologies. I am so enthusiastic about Mobile Technology in the 3rd World!

So now what?
a. I want money for Nico’s bicycle and
b. I’ll figure out a way to get the money/or bicycle there

When and where did I meet Nico?
…a few weeks ago I was very lucky to be taken on a holiday by my mum and brother, who flew in from The Netherlands. We’ve rented a car and basically drove to the places that inspired us at that moment. One of the things we did was a visit to Mozambique. Our rental car was having a hard time on the roads full of potholes, our eyes enjoyed each and every bit of it. What a wonderful country! What an extremely friendly people (especially compared to South Africa…I guess the absence of the the fear oppression -Apartheid- provided space for a community to be developed, rather then a culture of segregation and aggression)Stepping in a different world, separated from this “luxury” South African world. No big shopping malls, not a lot of cars (yeah sure in Maputo), mostly:…no running water, no electricity, no money, no technology. Rural, like really rural. Small villages, compiled of traditional woven or clay houses, fruits and small farms.

Coconuts and palm trees all along the road, just like ..cashew nuts…in plastic bags floating in the wind, lots of them connected to a tree. The roads are full of Potholes, women and children walking. Baskets of fruit and wood on their heads. Some bicycles. Lots of Vodacom and Cell C. Mobile phones everywhere! no landlines. no computers. but hey…they all have mobile phones…can you see the potential!

Mozambique has been independent since 1975 and was colonized by the Portuguese (you don’t come far with English!…I was lucky to being able to communicate in Spanish). The civil war (between ’82 – ’92) has its scars visible all over the country. Firstly all the do-not-enter signs everywhere….the land mines dangerously waiting for some innocent child to play freely. Secondly the ruins all over the place! Each little village has the remainders of what used to be a great and wealthy place, beautiful buildings, not being touched by anybody at the moment.. the informal trade gathers around the previous villages.

We met Nico while setting up our tent in Prado de Xhai Xhai. He wanted to make some extra money for his studies, which he got by assisting us to set up camp. After that he invited us over to his house in a small rural village, where we met his father and little brothers. They climbed up the palmtree to get us some fresh coconuts! (check video!). It was such a delightful surprise to being able to connect with a family, together with my family from a completely different back ground.

More video will follow. Pictures are available here:

Your action to empower Young Mobile reporters!

Posted November 28th, 2008 in Technology & Innovation by Frerieke

Afrigadget - young mobile reporters!

By Frerieke van Bree

In my previous post I wrote:

“I am so happy that I was able to step over my own foolish insecurity and explore and exchange at the above mentioned conferences. Great things come out as a result! Me being the connector enables underprivileged students from Khayelitsha to become mobile reporters on Afrigadget !!!

I am now inviting you to have a look at Erik’s latest post on Afrigadget, find the ‘chipin’ (visual, online fundraising tool) and take your action in making “this” happen! (“this” is the start of a great grass root reporting project all over the developing world!)

Do you want to know more about those amazing South African ladies (Zintle Sithole and Lukhona Lufuta) who will be contributing at the Afrigadget blog?

Find them in one of our old videos: (Zintle is the first lady to speak, followed by Lukho)

(this video goes together with this post:

HOW TO: technology and implementation

Posted November 23rd, 2008 in development, Personal Fre, South Africa, Technology & Innovation by Frérieke
How to: technology-and-implementation
Techie is a term, derivative of the word technology, for a person who displays a great, sometimes even obsessive, interest in technology, high-tech devices, and particularly computers. (source: Wikipedia)
The word geek is a slang term, noting individuals as “a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things. (source:Wikipedia)

by Frerieke van Bree

I don’t consider myself a real ‘techie’, but I do have a strong passion for technology.
And although the word ‘geek’ is often used in obsessive computer/technology/connectivity situations, looking at the explanation on Wikipedia makes me think: Yes I am a geek. A big one. I am obsessed with combining my passions (humanity, technology, design, leadership). I am a people loving-passion following-intercultural connecting-voices facilitating and human empowering GEEK.

Last year I attended the Web of Change conference in Canada. Being among some of the brightest web focused changemakers from The States and Canada was extraordinary. People like Peter Deitz, Marc Laporte, Michael Silberman and many others inspired me to hold on to the thought that technology can make a difference in the lives of many underprivileged people. Attending the (mostly white) Wordcamp South Africa (a gathering of fans of the open source blogging software WordPress ) opened my eyes to how big the gap between technology implementation in the privileged (mostly white) and implementation and usage in the underprivileged (mostly black/colored) communities is.
Recently I visited MobileActive08 in Johannesburg. A (to me) very inspiring, but also overwhelming mix of geeks, techies (including Google, Microsoft,..), funders and implementers, who all  make a difference in the world through mobile technology. I was blown away by what is already being done with the mobile phone in the developing world. A few personal highlights: meeting Erik Hersman and getting to know the crisis report enabling Ushahidi and listening to Guy Berger and his Journalism project The News is Coming in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Being at those conferences made me feel like being back at University. Our faculty of Architecture was considered to be the ‘soft’ faculty of the Technical University of Delft in The Netherlands, other faculties used to make jokes about the ‘cut and glue’ course we were attending. The 80% male-20% female rate in Delft, being the only girl on our Windsurf association board, living with 4 bright men in a house…it all made me feel like a black sheep in a world of Men and Technology. And after university it was: being a woman in the building industry, being a woman in a (unfortunately still!) predominantly white-male dominated South African society and now I ‘torture’ myself with….visiting technology conferences…

My insecurity at conferences tells me: What am I doing here? Where’s my IPhone/blackberry/apple computer? How do I talk tech? How on earth do I catch up with all knowledge in this audience? It is like being back at University…..I don’t belong here.

Fortunately, my secure and balanced me says: does it matter? My vision is clear, my passion is big.
Go and explore girl, make those connections, learn as much as possible.

Major Non-profit organizations have their own Technology consultant on board and come up with the most creative and innovative uses of technology on the ground. Great. But….
I wonder: How to get the message of what is possible with technology out to the many “heroes in underprivileged communities”??? How to hear the needs and ideas of young brights minds in the developing world??? How to empower Africans by African ingenuity??? How to have Africans say NO to the brain drain? How to have Africa really be in the hands of Africans!!

I enjoyed reading Ethan Zuckermans words on bridge figures {…we need bridge figures, people who can help build connections between cultures. We need xenophiles, people who are interested in the whole world and in building conversations that break out of the homophily trap.}

If people ask me what my secret skill in life is I say I am a connector and facilitator. I facilitate a space where the one can meet the other, where people from The developed West meet the poor South, young meet old, You meet Them, They meet YOU and YOU get to know YOURSELF. I facilitate a space of no judgement, listening and curiosity. A space of fun! and smiles 🙂

Back to the title of this blog post: {How To: technology and implementation}

How to improve the implementation of Technology in order to eradicate poverty/empower the underprivileged/bridge the implementation gap?
My two cents…

  • Improve the language of technology: right now it is too techie and not easy accessible for all. It can not be read/reached by the communities on the ground that know best what is needed in their village.
  • Include (underprivileged) youngsters!! The bright minds of the future should be included in the conversation of today! Let them be inspired and generate ideas!
  • Support bridge figures! Give them a feeling of -belonging- in the world of Men and Tech! Create (more) scholarships for fancy conferences!!

I am so happy that I was able to step over my own foolish insecurity and explore and exchange at the above mentioned conferences. Great things come out as a result! Me being the connector enables underprivileged students from Khayelitsha to become mobile reporters on Afrigadget !!!

I promise I will never doubt the impact I am making in the world and the fact that I matter…
I have experienced a shift from ‘not belonging’ to a ‘knowing who I am and what my passion and purpose in life is’
Being a bridge is the best! Thanks COSAT learners! And thanks you Tech-savvy global inhabitants!