Brand new computer centre for township kids

2015-09-30 06:00
Nilakhe Balani opened the Sikhanyise Computer Centre in Walmer township’s Area Q, to offer computer training to young children and adults in the community. Sikhanyise is linked to Ikamva Daycare, with children from the daycare centre attending comput

Nilakhe Balani opened the Sikhanyise Computer Centre in Walmer township’s Area Q, to offer computer training to young children and adults in the community. Sikhanyise is linked to Ikamva Daycare, with children from the daycare centre attending comput

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SHE had to give up her dream of becoming an electrical engineer because she had “no clue” how to use a computer. Now Nilakhe Balani is making sure other township children won’t have to do the same.

Balani, who was raised in Motherwell, started the Sikhanyise computer centre in Area Q of Walmer township, where children can attend classes from as young as four years old.

The centre is linked to Ikamva Daycare, but is also offering computer training for adults in the community, said Balani. “I want to challenge their mindset and help them regain their dignity,” she explained. “The people who live here aren’t that poor, but they have been told they’re poor so often that they started to believe it. If we can train them for the workplace, they won’t have to beg anymore.”

It was Balani’s own career problems that inspired her to open the centre. When she started her studies in electrical engineering, she couldn’t keep up with the computer-based classes and had to drop out. “I realised later it was because public schools don’t offer computer training, but I could give that to other children. I wanted to change lives, even if it is in a small way.”

She is very proud of the centre’s independence. “The community brought whatever they had to contribute, and I collected old computers from friends. Then Vitrucomp, a local computer company, donated some computers to the centre.

“Now my husband is an intern there, so he can learn to fix the computers himself if we ever have technical problems.”

Balani’s main concern is electricity, as the township had been struggling without a power supply for long periods at times.

In this time, Sikhanyise could not offer classes. “We will have to look into alternative solutions like solar panels, so that we won’t have to depend on the power grid anymore,” Balani said.

“Luckily safety is not an issue. The community knows the centre was built for them, and that is why we haven’t had a single break-in. They are protecting it, because they see what we are doing for them and they want to help.”

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