Merry Merkle Goes to Africa

Hello good people!

Last year, some friends hosted something called Merry Merkle. It was a Christmas donation campaign with a simple website and leaderboard that encouraged people from all over the world to donate a little crypto to those in need (in this case, it was a Children’s Home in Toronto). They were very, very successful.

I would like to propose that we do something similar this year at Status, and have just the place in mind which could really benefit from something like this.

As you all know, education is one of our major goals at Status. If we want to build a better web, we need to make sure that we’re taking people along with us on that epic journey. As you may not know, education in South Africa is my home country’s single greatest post-apartheid failing. Particularly where my family lives, in the Eastern Cape, the education system borders on criminally negligent.

As a response, my family and some friends started their own school, and have been educating around 100 local children for the last decade. It’s called, appropriately, African Angels. The school offers an independent curriculum and education, and is really the only hope these kids have of a better life as they grow up and look to expand their horizons beyond the rural village where we all live.

I think it would be great to set up a similar site and drive to what happened with Merry Merkle, but I want to get some of you out there, on the ground, meeting the kids and teachers, and hacking together in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

                                  . . .

There are a number of exchanges in SA who I can rope in through some personal contacts to handle the exchange, regulatory, and legal concerns here. I have also started looking for accommodation for however many people would like to attend and - for now, to get the ball rolling - have secured a shared house in a truly awesome location.

The Beach House is currently available for the first couple of weeks in December. We have a booking for the weekend of the 14th but I have blocked the dates up until the 14th for now so as to provide you with a bit of time to decide if the venue would be suitable for your requirements.

As you know, it is fully equipped and has uninterrupted ocean views. The house sleeps 10 across five bedrooms, three of which are en-suite. Conveniently located, the venue is a couple of minutes from the main beach entrance and the local cafés and supply store. Our housekeeper is available to give the house a service during the week.

Please note that the house has uncapped wifi.

More images are available on our instagram page @gillsbeachhouse for more images. We charge R2600 per night but offer a 10% discount for local bookings.

Let me know if you’d like to come and be a part of this in the first week of December 2018. The idea would be to build a site to handle the donations and set up all the admin required behind it to make sure it all goes directly to the school. We can also maybe do some Status-specific activities and meetings depending on who can make it.

Otherwise, once that is all done, the idea would be to have a week on what I guarantee you is the single best beach in South Africa, and likely one of the best in the world. I leave you with this to consider:



As said in Slack - this is amazing, and I’m happy to help with anything I can, remote or on site.

I want to move this back up to the top of the list and see if anyone else is interested in signing up.


  1. We will be holding the in-person event in Cintsa from the 10th to the 17th of December.
  2. We will be using an exchange in South Africa and some private volunteers to help get the crypto from Ether into Rand. We can only really accept ETH at this stage. If anyone has any bright ideas about how to use SNT as well, they would be welcome cc @rramos @barry @ricardo3 @yessin
  3. I have accommodation for 10-12 people.
  4. We will be attending the last 2 days of school with the kids (the 10th and 11th), perhaps helping with a coding class if we can organise that in time, watching their end of year concert and generally learning about the school.
  5. We will be building a class with our own hands, because social impact is not just about software for the other 5 days.

The school really, really needs this donation campaign. They’ll be opening a high school next year and, so far, have no donors for it. It is completely funded by donations due to the, frankly, shocking nature of education in rural South Africa and so this project being a success is really important for them

You’ll get to spend a week in the most beautiful part of South Africa (which is really saying something) having magical beach bonfires, building classrooms, meeting kids, listening to beautiful songs and generally making a small difference. I can’t think of anything better… cc @jwrede @naghdy @carl

Please join me in making this a reality? As an extra plea, here is a rarely-seen poem:

The light will break you,
pierce you through and find
all the cracks, in a garden chair
beneath the endless stars
as desert sands stretch out
forever before you,
big and cold and empty
and lit by all the holes in the sky
which speak of who we once were
and how we might, one day,
be better.

I’ll sit here next to you
watching your coal-black hands
as you pick at the collected dust
beneath your finger nails
and marvel at how knowing
helps nothing,
how it will lead you nowhere
near this far way kingdom.

I will watch you dance,
flames reaching for your face
as if it were through fire
that we can come to feel again
our way back, our eyes unused
to the settling night, having
forgotten that there is no balance
up here; that the light always wins,
even if it has to shatter you
ten thousand times and more.

So be broken, old friend,
full of holes and memories
of what might have been,
let the past shine through you
in vast maps like this music
of where we’ve been
and where we’ll go next,
an old canoe and a simple current
to carry us to where we’ve always
meant to be.


Checking my calendar. Love the initiative.

Any thoughts on what can be done remotely?

@igor is going to help me build the site and make sure it’s all good. Have some UX input there might be useful, and have @petty cover the security we need would be great. But this one is really about building that class with your hands and hanging out with the kids in person :wink:

That sounds pretty amazing @cryptowanderer, I’m interested!

@cryptowanderer this sounds right up my street. I’ve run dozens of workshops at the Design Museum here in London for kids aimed 4-16 and volunteered on a number of other youth projects and for various charities so adding the crypto element to the mix sounds great to me.

Just before I sign up can you fill in a couple of gaps for me:

  • When you say ‘the Ether into Rand’ is this all self-funded or backed by Status?
  • The ‘coding class’ is having coding knowledge a prerequisite for this?
  • ‘Building a class’ is the aim fo the class to help kids code or…

Nice one for sharing for the poem, really beautiful.

Amazing project Andy! What can be done remotely to help?

I highly recommend anyone going to SA to give a hand, Andy is an awesome guide and host.

  1. We will set up an ETH address that anyone can donate to, as this is not just a Status initiative. However, we then need to get that ETH into Rand (ZAR) in order for the school to use it currently. This presents some problems, but I am working those out behind the scenes.
  2. Ideally, no coding knowledge required. Tbh I haven’t thought about this much and would love some input/help. They have a computer room with ~12 computers set up and connected to the internet (barely) so we have some constraints there, but at least it’s something to work with.
  3. Building a class is just something the school legitimately needs help with, and whoever has hands and a body and is willing to pitch in, they will accept.

Count me in - happy to help out where I can :slight_smile:

Hi @ceri - does that mean you will come to South Africa with Stef?

Also, to everyone - I have put together a mock up for the site, which I will need help from @igor and @petty on (but only before December, so don’t stress yet): Merry Merkle | Merry Merkle

Let me know what you think, and if it is OK to use a little Status branding…

Hands - check
Body - check

Sign me up.

Just an initial idea for a workshop/class @Ned and I were just discussing and I mentioned a flip book animation activity that could work real well. Possibly creating the flip books and then turning them into gifs on zee computers?

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Yep indeed! :slight_smile:

Amazing! We have, so far:

@anon16796968 @ceri @Alex definitely signed up. @kohola can you confirm you want to come in person?

@Alex have you ever seen ? Was thinking something along those lines might be more long-term useful for the kids…

arg, Andy - I might not be able to make it. I’m going for a training in the Philippines for all of November (which wasn’t vaguely in the cards when this initiative started) and will be home just by Dec 4th/5th. I should probably stay here. :frowning:

I’m in.
I have little experience with teaching kids, but I’d really love to join this initiative.

@cryptowanderer yes in person!

Gonna move this up the list one more time. So far, confirmed, we have:

@kohola @Alex @divan @ceri and myself. Gabrielle is also confirmed.

For remote help, we have: Goran, Julien, Igor, Kim, Yessin. @hester is either remote or in person.

Please message me in Status if you need help with travel costs. Expenses to be paid in ETH, so make sure you’re set up for that. It was suggested that we use a GivEth campaign for this, but I am happy to organise it amongst some friends quietly. I will make sure that the other 4-6 spots in the accommodation I will book go to South Africans. One is already confirmed.

Then, Simona Pop from has also offered to help out, so will create some bounties for us. I asked her to think about ones for

  1. collecting stationery, arts and craft, books, and equipment,
  2. choosing/designing courses from Scratch - Ideas and getting us set up to run some of those at African Angels (and show the teachers, so that they can keep using it)
  3. a video compilation of the in-person event/school/surrounding paradise
  4. Anything else you good people can think of to raise awareness.

Hi All!

Yes, I am in the process of setting up the first bounty (and the easiest one): collecting and sending stationery, arts and craft, books, and equipment in time for Christmas. The idea is that the reward for the bounty should hopefully cover all/some postage to SA. A verifiable submission will be a photo of the contents of the package and the package addressed accordingly and with postage on it.

The other three bounties I would love ideas on!

The video compilation will be setup a little bit like this existing bounty here - I would love ideas on how much you feel submitting footage from SA would be worth and you can of course then get those rewards contributed to perhaps a bounty for next year’s Merry Merkle!

Choosing or designing the courses is the most complex, I feel - all Ideas on setting up clear outline, requirements and rewards for this, welcome!


Thank you so much Simona! We’ll kick this into high gear once DevCon is done, and really think properly about that course. I do like the illustrated book you emailed me, and definitely think that can be included. Will see what else I can come up with in the meantime.

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