I’ve titled this post “Stepping Out” because well, this will be one of the riskiest leaps I have ever done. I am completely putting my future in God’s hands, and I’m excited about it.
Mandla and I decided to start a code school for the underprivilidged in South Africa. We are both extremely passionate about this and in this post I am going to outline my reasoning on this.
A while ago I had a discussion with my wife on whether we should stay in the country or leave it, my bags were all but packed. She said she supported me 100% and if we’re doing this not out of fear but because we felt that it’s what God told us to do, we should do it. I then had a hard question to ask, why do I want to leave the country? Short and the long of it is I realised that it is mainly because of fear and hopelessness. We then decided to stay in the country, we are not done with it yet, and will actively work towards solving the very problems that urged us to leave in the first place.
Hence the code school, I see this as a way to not only help give jobs to those that will otherwise not have the opportunity, but also changing the country for the better. Standing in a SARS queue yesterday, I had to work really hard on drowning out a they lady in front of me’s voice, she was complaining to everyone that would listen. We have a lot of that in South Africa, everyone complaining about how the country is going backwards, no one doing anything about it. That needs to change and it is, starting with initiatives like The Coding Ground.
I have seen first hand at Sisonke Rising how just by giving someone hope, telling them that they can, you can change the course of someone’s life. I remember vividly being asked by one of our students, Moral Jera, can one be a programmer without going to University, knowing full well that his Mom could not afford it. I told him something like yes, that is one of the best things about programming, all one needs is a computer, willingness to learn and hard work and you become a programmer. (As a side note, I now not only think that you can become a programmer, but a worldclass one at that, given the right people to help you along your journey). After this discussion, I could see him working harder and harder every week, learning so much and really putting in the effort. He is still in school and finishing his last year, but I know he will go on to do amazing things.
Both Mandla and I truly believe that this is only the start of what God has in store for us.
Starting a code school is a big dream, and there are a number of hurdles we need to jump over on the way. The reality is that even though I know there are a number of people that would jump at an opportunity to help shape the future of so many young lives, it’s hard to find those individuals and even more importantly, that we are worthy of their assistance and will use whatever they can provide correctly. Understanding other people and working with other people is something that I’ve been working extremely hard at, it’s essential in Software Development as well as life in general, however this is an entirely new aspect that I have not focused on: Sales, Marketing, Advertising. So yes, this is a big hurdle but given the vision and what we can accomplish with The Coding Ground, it’s a hurdle that we will overcome, we have no choice.
We don’t need that much to start, a venue and a couple of computers with working internet is all that we need to start teaching our first couple of students. Even if we still do contract work until such time as we have the neccessary sponsorships in order to dedicate our full attention to our students and The Coding Ground, all we really need is a couple of minutes here and there, and a daily session on an important topic, to provide guidance to the students. We’ve already got a couple of strong sources for our curriculum that can keep our students busy for almost a full year.
This is not a lot to ask, in fact, it’s
To completely change a person, you have to show them that they are capable of so much more than what their past experiences lead them to believe. You have to help them shift their reality. I believe that the Coding Ground will not only be a place where we can show our students that they are smart enough to be programmers, but also that they are extremely capable in all aspects of life. We will have break away sessions throughout the week where they will step away from their course work / schedule to do other equally stimulating like playing chess, juggling, flying drones, Foozball and so many other interesting ways of teaching them the love of acquiring a new skill.
Contracts, lawyers, marketing, flyers, salaries, funding and to name just a few are all things that are standing between us and the ultimate goal, guiding willing and able individuals to become world-class software craftsmen (this term most defintely includes women as well). The dream however is alive and well, and holding tight to that dream, and God’s vision for us, is one that will see us through.
The future is bright!