Mentoring boys to become real men

Youth learned more about their chosen interests at various information stalls.

A partnership between the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP), and Hanover Park-based organisations, will see 100 youths go through a year-long mentorship programme.

The programme, Boys to Real Men, is aimed at providing positive alternatives to the youths to prevent them from joining gangs.

The project was launched on Human Rights Day, Wednesday March 21, at the Edith Stevens Wetlands Park near Manenberg.

The seed for this project was planted by She-Chem, an organisation that has been working in Hanover Park since 2002. The organisation put an invitation out to other organisations to join the project, and a few responded.

Carol van Wyk, the founder and director of She-Chem, said the project would not only work with the youths but their parents as well.

“We all know about gang violence and how it affects our communities. This project is about preventing more deaths. The children will be mentored in a skill they choose over a one-year period. They can choose between five-a-side soccer, drumming, filming, nature conservation, reading, or dancing. There will also be workshops where they will discuss topics like ‘clean money’, rape, gang violence, and drugs, among others.

“The message is for them to take responsibility for the choices they make.

“Once a month, we will also embark on hikes and talks. Each child will have a profile, and their parents and the mentors will have to fill in a monthly progress report.

“We are also planning to host three workshops for the parents. We hope to have a camp at the end of the year,” Ms Van Wyk said.

On the day of the launch, 145 youths, including girls, pitched for the introduction of the programme. There were different stations with information about each of the skills offered.

The MURP is supporting the project by providing food and buses for the participants.

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