Tuesday, June 20, 2006

African School Built by Slotland.com Brings Community Together

Before it is even open, the school in Malawi built by popular online slots site, Slotland.com, is already an important community centre. The villagers that built the school have been back to harvest the first crop of maize, which will feed pre-school students, and a volunteer committee is being trained to manage the new facility when classes begin in September.

I'm personally impressed by Slotland.com. While most online gambling companies are mostly interested in the owners'/stockholders' profits, Slotland.com amazingly philanthropic.

“Our goal is to help to start up this project, to work hand in hand with the local community, to make sure that soon our presence will not be needed and that the project can continue functioning without us or outside funding,” said Hannah Morante of Slotland.com.

We are following two guiding principles,” said Tereza, the Project Manager. “The project must directly respond to the needs of the community. And it must be built and managed by the local people in order for them to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility.

The Slotland.com team’s first task in Africa was to understand what the local people needed most. Visiting families, schools, health centres, churches, and other stakeholders confirmed that the biggest problems facing the villagers were the lack of food, lack of money for school, lack of knowledge, sexual inequality, and HIV.

The team learned some startling facts that make providing an education all the more important:
  • Half of all twelve-year-old girls are sexually active, usually for money.
  • Common misconceptions, like ‘sperm contains vitamin K that women can only get through unprotected sex’ or ‘sex with virgins can cure HIV’ help spread disease.
  • Some communities still practice initiation ceremonies that encourage early sex which, being unprotected, result in pregnancies or STDs.
  • Schools, churches, and other organizations trying to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic generally advise young people to abstain but as most of them are already sexually active, this advice doesn’t have a chance of changing their behaviour.

“We want to help these people break the cycle of poverty and we think education is the key,” said Morante. “We strongly believe that it is our obligation to share our prosperity like this. We know it makes our players feel good about how they’re spending their entertainment dollars.”

Slotland.com has nine unique online slot machines and now offers three of the most popular games on mobile phones. The site is well known for its progressive jackpots (available both online and on the mobile games) which are hit every six weeks or so for $150,000 or more. It is also well known for its generosity.