Students for Humanity

Posted January 22nd, 2009 in Portfolio by Frérieke

Bridging the digital divide, one blog post at a time …

Students for Humanity started in Jan 2009 with a group of students from underprivileged areas ‘Townships’ around Cape Town. I got to know those students quite well the year before while teaching them Leadership-class (working on self-esteem, presentations, teamwork). The reasons to start working ‘online’ with my students was three-folded:

– bridging the digital divide

– empowering students to have a voice (a continuation of our leadership program)

– creating global awareness : connecting students worldwide

I tried to involve outsiders as much as possible (for example, Jan Folmer – from the famous podcast came to do a Podcast workshop with the students). Andre Vermeulen (A South African living in the UK took care of the technical bits to create the site) The passionate South African writer, Nonkululeko Godana came to join the team during the second half of 2009. We are now trying to get youth in different places of the world to join the conversation,  some partners in that process are Zamo Nkatshu in Johannesburg, Chris in Malawi and Pelle Aardema in The Netherlands.

Read an interview that Media24 took with me here


A trip to heaven..

Posted January 21st, 2009 in Personal Fre by Frérieke

Day 21_ Krista R.I.P.

goede reis, je hebt nu geen gewicht
ga sneller dan het licht
de planeten zingen zacht van het wonder dat je wacht
kijk niet om en ga steeds vooruit

(text Spinvis song: Astronaut)

31 years. Krista, my second cousin. She didn’t wait for a cancer to enjoy life…

This lady has been a lot in my mind the last few days. (or actually few months)

We were not just born on the same day…we shared a lot of passions for people, travel, Spanish, salsa, .. >> I’ll make sure your enthusiasm lives on! Love Ya Krista!

Photo a Day

Posted January 21st, 2009 in Portfolio by Frérieke

I post a photo each day.

Because my memory is so bad, and works very visual…I decided to make a record of my year. I started doing this the beginning of 2009. I managed to post 325 pics in 2009….improvements to be made this year!

Each photo has a description. Not just of what there is to see in the picture, but the life that is behind it… enjoy!

PS…most pictures are taken with my mobile phone (a Samsung SGH-E730) Material is no excuse…pics are not the best quality but the messages will be clear… BTW…you are welcome to donate me a REAL great camera!

You’ll find my photos and stories on Flickr, an online photo album. Click on one of the photos below and you’ll get there!

B’day and things..

Posted January 8th, 2009 in Personal Fre by Frérieke
A few things:2008 was a bad personal blogging year. Shall I still continue?
yeah, I’ve got plans. Did you check out my new homepage? Integrated Flickr (photo album) and Twitter (multi user messaging/blogging tool) Follow me here: flickr
or here: twitter

yes, it is this time of the year 11.1.81 > B’day time
Everybody in Cape Town: Edith (10.1.81) and I are celebrating at Jamaican me crazy (Roodebloem, Woodstock) from 19.30 on Sat 10.1.09. Come join us for a drink!

NO presents needed! Please if you want to give something (other then a big hug)
donate to my account: (I need to save money to replace my dying laptop)

fj van bree 9169749182
br code 632005 (ABSA)

fj van Bree

paypal: freriekevanbree at (replace at with @)

OR donate to the projects! (check out

stichting Umeebee

paypal: freriekevanbree at (replace at with @)

(please note what you want to donate to)

On a sad note..
I’ve got a great second cousin who is sharing her B’day with me. She is going through a serious difficult time of her life. She has been diagnosed with cancer….unfortunately the doctors aren’t able to help her… another young person facing the end of this earhtly life. Krista, all love and blessings for you. You demonstrate what ‘enjoying life and travel’ means. you inspire many of us! I hope your energy is there to enjoy this day 31 years ago you were born…

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..

Not all gifts are found under the tree…

Posted December 28th, 2008 in afrigadget by Frerieke

…some are in the HEART. (Zintle sent me this text in a SMS on Christmas day…I just love it)


By Frerieke van Bree

How were your days?

I was happy to make a lot of people happy! All donations for the Sony Ericsson were in, …I could make the Afrigadget grassroots reporters “Mobile”. Lukho and Zintle were very excited. They now both have a wonderful phone to work with. Zintle captures her stories with the Nokia N95, Lukho uses the Sony Ericsson  C702.

I had a very nice chat with a homeless Cape Town inhabitant, Madmoet Abrahams. He was so excited to hear that the photos I took would be online and viewed by a lot of people. The story of Madmoet is published on Afrigadget …go and have a look..

Madmoet Abrahams

Festive season: Celebrating family

Posted December 20th, 2008 in Leadership Academy by Frerieke

By Frerieke van Bree

What a wonderful time to have a post dedicated to family. Thank you Nezi for your inspiring dedication to transformation in your family! (please read her post below..)
Have a wonderful festive season everybody! Whether or not you are with family… Be like family to all the people around you… and show your appreciation..

Here’s to my family: even though this is another Christmas that I am far away from you all …I’m with you everyday! The greatest gift you can give me is your happiness! And I promise you, I am living mine.. Love ya all!

Nezi Busakwe

By Nezi Busakwe

What matters to me????

My family is a matter to me. We are 4children 2girls and 2boys. Since I was young not even a year old my father was working on mines and he is still working there trying to find something for his family to eat, trying to satisfy us and make to be like other families.

He did this for years and pretends to enjoy it. Sometimes at work the boss would say they are many for that particular mine so the must be others leaving the mine. This had happened to my father many times, first time they gave him not working for about 3 months and not paying him. But my parents managed to give us best education. If I look at our situation at home it always remind what I am here. And the answer came to make a difference to my family.

My parents are always making sure that we get education. My older brother is doing his second year at PETEC. Sometimes I ask GOD why did he made us? Did he made us so that we can be an example of suffering people or what? When I see my brother not going to school because of money, I start to ask myself questions. Why I am a student, busy studying but at the end of the day I would not go to university. The last level of education? but the answer just came and said I was born to make a

Sometimes I feel real bad when my father is ill because of the work he did. My heart hurts that I get food and everything because of my father’s life. Not forgetting my mother who is a star to me, my role model, who always live for her children.


Nezi Busakwe's family

 Nezi Busakwe washing her hair

From the Township up Table Mountain

Posted December 18th, 2008 in Outreach programs by Frerieke

Outing COSAT Table mountain

COSAT on Table mountain!!

By Frerieke van Bree

Khayelitsha is about half an hour drive from the Cape Town city center. A taxi drive with the minibus cost 20 Rand a single trip! 20 Rand is about the same price as a bread and a bottle of milk…. COSAT students sometimes go to bed on an empty stomach… A trip to Cape Town city is a real treat. Especially a trip that includes going up the 1000m high Table Mountain. And even better when there is the opportunity of climbing that big challenge of a mountain!

Thanks to donations from Raquel and her friends from the USA and Marianne and Paul from The Netherlands, this trip was made possible for 65 of the COSAT students! We all had a great time! Check out the video…

Just before this great outing, I unfortunately sprained my ankle badly when a big wave threw me of my windsurfer…aaai…Who was gonna climb that mountain with the students? I enrolled my colleagues from the architectural firm and my flat mates (including our dog, Luka). This was the best thing of the whole trip. The exchange between those bright COSAT learners and this international, young team of colleagues was so inspiring and empowering for everybody!

The day was grey, their shoes are old…rain or clouds, flip-flops….nothing could stop the students from climbing up! So great! I took the cable car up together with a few students and thought we would have to wait forever…. so surprised to see them all up there after 2,5 hours!

A lunch with music and dance in The Waterfront afterwards made the day complete!

Thanks for all the donations! Thanks Makeka design people! Thanks Michiel for the beautiful pictures! Thanks COSAT students for having the courage to overcome another challenge!

Don’t you just love the new Mobile language? Try to read this one from “Missy B”, one of the students that I received after the outing:

“Hey fre…McyB here..jst wana say thanx a lot,again,2 u n al da ada ppl who were involved in makin 2day possbl…Im very grtful,we al a…We had da BEST OF FUN and dap pl we were wt grt n kpt us tuout da whl hke,pity dou we ddn get a chance 2 tank dam personally so plz do dat 4 us-WE LUV U AL…!!!”

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:

Afrigadget evening!

Posted December 2nd, 2008 in afrigadget by Frerieke

Preparing, exploring


By Frerieke van Bree

We have started the Afrigadget Grassroot Mobile reporting project!!!! How exciting!! With a big THANK YOU to David Sasaki who donated his Nokia N95. In Davids words: “I was given my N95 by the good people at Pop!Tech and I know they’ll be pleased that it will be used for such a worthy cause. And if you’re not reading Afrigadget you’re missing out.” I agree. And thanks Pop!Tech !

Yesterday evening we had our first session together: me in the kitchen, cooking….Lukho and Zintle behind my laptop, reading all the previous Afrigadget stories, exploring the phone, brainstorming together how to find stories.

I asked them to write a few words about why they think an initiative like Afrigadget is important for them/their communities…


By Zintle Sithole

Wow! When I first read Fre’s email I thought excellent! This is exactly what Africa needs at the moment. The weekend before I received her email, my family and I were talking about how everything is going on a downward slope especially in South Africa with the politics and crime etc. I guess people find it very hard to look beyond all the bad things that are happening and actually focus on the good!

Well I am very excited about this but I also feel kind of nervous because this is kind of intimidating a bit and I feel the pressure. The reason why I’m scared is that I don’t think there are enough (inventions, creative, unthought-of and untapped) things that are happening in Cape Town or in South Africa generally or is that I have been too isolated and ignorant to learn or go and find out about things that are happening in my community or the world that surrounds me?

I plan to make the best of every opportunity that has been granted to be at Afrigadget. I got the new phone that was sponsored to us (thank you David Sasaki !!!!). It is the Nokia N95, which is perfect for Afrigadget. Like you said Fre, it might be a bit on the fancy side but it is sure worth it!

Thank you very much Erik for doing this, it is a great opportunity for us! This is going to be a great avenue for us youngsters to realize the beauty of our countries and to show us that we can do more!


By Lukho Lufuta

My initial reaction to the Afrigadget project was one of tremendous interest, as I am keen on all things technological and consider this a great means to show the world exactly what Africa can do, and what our people are about and also the ways in which we think and live.

It is now my chance to showcase a different slightly positive side to Africa, using mobile technology, irregardless of what people think they know about us from the BBC or CNN news media. So I ask you, what better way to do this than to start with resources that is universal to confirm Africa’s inventiveness?

I am only too eager to start working on this project and am truly appreciative to people like Frerieke van Bree and Erik Hersman, who are innovative in such a way as to find a niche and then provide the correct platform for day to day ordinary people and present their inventions to the world.