Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Get on Yer Bike for Africa

Here's a press release from my friends on the Virtual Africa project. If you want more information, please IM Alanagh Recreant inworld. All help will be gratefully received!

Virtual Africa raises funds for real world project in Second Life with African bicycles.

[CAPE TOWN, November 12, 2007] The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life are raising money through the [e]bizikile fundraising drive for an Opportunity Centre in a Cape Town community for unemployed job seekers. From 15 November through the upcoming festive season, residents can purchase virtual African bicycles designed by Shukran Fahid of !BooPeRFunK! for L$250 and next year, participate in a grid-wide virtual bike-a-thon.

“The Opportunity Centre is a revamped cow shed that we need to equip with computers, office resources and mentors to assist job seekers, small entrepreneurs and community members in making their own way out of poverty by actively pursuing their dreams,” said Dorette Steenkamp, co-executive director of Uthango Social Investments, a South African charity working with more than 12,000 people living in poverty. “The [e]bizikile fundraising event is meant to bring attention to how bicycles fit into the economy in African cities and rural towns.”

Second Life residents will also have the option to donate funds to purchase a real life bicycle that will then be bought by the Uthango for a school learner in rural Africa. Photos and interviews of the beneficiary will be streamed back into SL during 2008.

Steenkamp, whose avatar is Alanagh Recreant in Second Life, is working with co-executive director Erna Sittig who is Enakai Ultsch in the popular 3-dimensional virtual world. Through their NGO Uthango Social Investments, they are building Virtual Africa in Second Life as an orientation 'island' to serve as an entry point for Africans to participate in virtual worlds as well to build international awareness of Africa and the issues faced by the continent's people.

“We are encouraging African stakeholders to participate in virtual worlds for networking and commerce as well as educational and fundraising initiatives,” said Ultsch. “Virtual Africa is only one of a number of initiatives we are implementing to help generate economic development and growth at a local level, but it is the first African nonprofit initiative in Second Life.”

The [e]bizikile fundraising event is supported by Charitable Hearts, one of the largest charity groups in Second Life advocating for the work of a few selected charities. The e]bizikile African bicycles will be available from Uthango’s office in Second Life or from dedicated affiliated businesses. Web-enabled vendors donated by Hippo Technologies will dispense the bicycles. Free vendors are still available to interested companies, organizations or individual landowners in Second Life.

For more information about distributing or obtaining a unique African bicycle, contact Enakai Ultsch. Second Life residents can also join the [e]bizikile group or IM Alanagh Recreant for further details. To visit the Uthango offices in Second Life, follow this SLURL.

Uthango Social Investments is a registered charity located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the first African-based company and NGO officially in Second Life, where it will launch VIRTUAL AFRICA in 2008. Uthango Social Investments is an investment and development company specialising in sustainable poverty eradication. It focuses on the digital divide, micro-enterprise development, intercultural dialogue, crime prevention, community mental health, and infrastructure development.

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