Marlon Parker

Technology lecturer, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

By the time he had finished high school, Marlon Parker had never touched a computer. In fact, his first job was pushing shopping trolleys. Today he is completing his doctoral research in information technology� following on from his bachelor and master's degrees (cum laude). His thesis is centred around a project he spearheaded in the Cape Flats in which rehabilitated gang members and drug addicts use social multimedia technologies to council people around the country. Parker grew up on the Cape Flats and was a heavy drinker by the time he was 17. He has a brother in jail for drug possession and dealing. Your circumstances do not determine your destiny, Parker says. He personally trains recovered and reformed drug addicts on how to use technology such as MXit to do a form of peer-counselling using cellphone-based IM and social network. His work is groundbreaking and he manages to do this with no corporate or government funding. � Hendri Pelser

Lunch spot: Azure, Twelve Apostles, Cape Town