Cybersecurity specialists J2 has donated laptops and software to Rural Reach, a small non-profit organisation dedicated to serving the needs of the isolated and often neglected rural communities across the country.

Rural Reach is currently working alongside three small rural schools that lack the resources that larger schools receive. These include Lepelsfontein Primary in the Northern Cape, Buffelskloof Primary outside McGregor and Klaasvoogds Primary outside Robertson.

J2 CEO, John McLoughlin, says Rural Reach has some amazing initiatives. “Providing some access for the young people they work within rural communities is very exciting for us. Young people have no chance of thriving in this digital world if they do not have access to resources.”

“Things that many people take for granted, like putting together a CV or doing an online application is impossible without the right equipment. We look forward to working closely with them and seeing how we can make a small, but meaningful, difference in the lives of the young people in these communities,” he says.

Mc Loughlin says projects such as these can change not only an individual’s life but the life of their entire family and even whole communities. “Most of the families whose children are in the schools are either unemployed or have a very limited income. Work opportunities are scarce in these rural areas and alcoholism and drug abuse are an ever-present problem.”

Rural Reach co-managing director, Morgan de Klerk, says Rural Reach was started in 2018 when she and her husband realised that many rural communities are isolated, neglected and disadvantaged. “They don’t even have access to basic necessities such as running water or electricity.”

“Many children come from broken homes and live with their grandparents or with a single parent. With little to no income for these families, many children don’t even have their basic needs met. The result is that they often fail to complete their school career which greatly inhibits future work opportunities,” she explains.

With the support of companies like J2, Rural Reach intends to offer practical support in the fields of health, education and job creation in selected rural communities. In order to do this, a holistic approach is required to convey life and emotional skills as a foundational competence. The transformation it strives to achieve is increasingly rooted in the hands of its beneficiaries.

Rural Reach offers practical support to these communities by meeting them where they are. This means it tailors all its projects to meet their specific needs in order to guarantee the greatest impact. It also ensures that all its projects are sustainable and that the funds are used appropriately.

“We have a variety of projects, some completed and some ongoing. Some of our once-off projects include distributing much-needed winter clothing to communities; fixing the plumbing of a local primary school; assisting certain individuals to apply for university and much more,” says de Klerk.

Rural Reach started with once-off donations like donating a refrigerator to the school to keep the children’s food cool. Other donations included school fees, netball poles, donations clothes, stationary, food hampers etc.

De Klerk pointed to another project called ‘People with Promise’ where they identify people in the local community who are excelling. “We help them find work, prepare for interviews and create CVs for them. Our flagship project is called ‘Sponsor a Child’.”

“This project is aimed at supporting children from poor families in rural areas by ensuring that they have access to quality education and providing them with a food hamper each month,” she adds. “They also employ a local representative in the towns to keep an eye on the children and ensure that all their needs are being adequately met.”

J2 has sponsored laptops that were donated to local representatives in McGregor and Robertson. This will help them to prepare and submit their quarterly reports and overall communications via email. Previously they had to write out the reports and we had to physically collect the reports.

“These laptops are also supporting our ‘People with Promise’ project. We are investing in the local reps to build their computer skills. They have shown great potential and this is why we chose them to be our local reps. They have to send a summary of each child and each school needs to send a report of how the funds were utilised,” she says.

One of the local reps is using the laptops to further her education of Early Childhood Development course beginning January 2021. She hopes to open her own ECD centre in the future, Mc Loughlin concludes.