Virtual Children

September 12, 2011 1:57:26 PM PDT
It started very personal, one woman adopting a child and seeing a need so great she couldn't do it alone. She created a way others can be present in a child's life in a, virtual adoption.

Jenica Myszkowski sat down to visit someone who is like family.

They talk to 11-year-old Sarah in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their "net buddy" connection began in New York through an organization called Infinite Family.

"What a rewarding experience it has been. I've had a chance to know Sarah over a year and a half now," said Jenica.

Jenica has been mentoring Sarah since before her son was born. Now they both marvel at how big he is getting.

Uniting children from Africa with mentors from ten countries and 30 states is the work of Amy Stokes.

"All of these children have been growing up in communities that have been severely affected by HIV and poverty," said Stokes.

Impossible to adopt them all, when she adopted her son Calder, this was a way to remember those left behind.

She adds, "We could used technology in a new way to create relationships that span the world and that can truly transform these children's lives."

The children log in at schools or youth centers in their villages. The technology is interactive. The trained screened mentors can even help with homework but mostly be there as a needed friend.

Sarah gets something out of their weekly half hour chats, and Jenica does too.

"She looks forward to seeing me on Sundays and comes prepared to tell me everything that happened that week," she adds.

Infinite Family runs its program out of five computer labs in schools or community centers in South Africa. More than 300 children have participated. The goal is to get 25 computer labs and expand into eastern Africa.