In this weeks episode we share the inspirational story of two developers that have devoted themselves to teaching the disadvantaged youth of two prominent townships, Diepsloot and Olievenhoutbosch, to program.

We chat to Theo Bohnen ( and Mandla Magagula ( about their Sisonke Rising initiative. Sisonke Rising an impact and value driven community outreach programme that focuses on teaching young people life skills through the vehicle of software development. The aim of the initiative is ensure as many young people as possible are able to collaboratively code and build working software.

Formerly called DrivenSpark, Sisonke came from the Zulu/Sotho word meaning "We are together", and together they focus on more than just code. They're a value-driven initiative. Values were chosen by the students themselves, and are reinforced every Saturday when they come together to learn. Their values include communication, feedback, courage, simplicity, care and fun.

They have great support from their employer, Driven Alliance (, and one of the founders (and former guest on the show) Kevin Trethewey ( who offers his own property and money to provide the students with books and snacks.

They follow a spiral teaching model, where the more experienced students help the new entrants, reinforcing their skills. They rely on existing online teaching resources for their curriculum, using online typing courses, play online and offline games, and even getting them to submit their code to GitHub.

Sisonke Rising is in desperate need of laptop donations for their students. If you have a working laptop that you no longer need, please contact Theo or Mandla to arrange for delivery. If you want to replicate Sisonke Rising in an underprivileged community near you, you can also get in touch with Theo & Mandla. Last, but not least, if you're willing to come help on a Saturday, get in touch with them and share your knowledge with the students.

Find Sisonke Rising online:

Here are some of the resources mentioned during the show:


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