FAMSA PE is making its emotional support services more accessible through the use of the innovative JamiiX platform which allows people to interact with counsellors via MXit and other chat platforms.
The JamiiX system, which was developed by RLabs in Cape Town, was pilot tested at a local school before it was officially launched last week at an event hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Department of Computing Sciences. Teachers and learners from 20 selected primary and high school in the metropole attended the launch.
Trained FAMSA staff are online from 3pm to 4pm to talk in confidence via MXit with children or adults who are struggling with family or personal problems. The very low cost of MXit chats, the fact that it is the chat medium of choice of many young people and the freedom that callers have to remain anonymous for as long as they wish, make this new platform an ideal point of first contact for people who need help. MXit users can access the support system by adding the ID firstname.lastname@example.org via Google or Jabber.
According to FAMSA Programme Manager, Marisa Pietersen, the goal of the JamiiX project is to reach people who cannot access the normal FAMSA services because of their personal situation. “This way we can show compassion to people out there that has nothing, no services to help them and no one to listen”, says
Speaking at the official launch, Mvusi Gwam, Chairperson of the FAMSA Management Committee, said JamiiX could play a useful role in helping to help break the silence that was characteristic of victims of family violence and abuse. For these victims, “knowing that you are not alone in your situation can bring about a measure of comfort”.
Prof Jean Greyling, HOD of the NMMU Department of Computing Sciences said it was a great honour for his department to collaborate with FAMSA in this project. “It not only complements different research projects our department is driving regarding the use of MXit, but also fits well with our vision to be an engaged department, making a difference in our community.”