In a nutshell
The Men’s Mentoring Project looks at men’s issues and their impact on community, violence and family breakdown. The core objective of the Men’s Mentoring Project is to assist men in understanding and engaging in their roles as men in the community. This project is facilitated by Community Action towards a Safer Environment (CASE), and operates in Hanover Park, Cape Town.
What we do
Absent fathers and lack of visible positive role models is a common problem in many violent impoverished communities. Too many men are often physically and emotionally absent, neglectful or worse, abusive and violent.
In our efforts to break the cycle of community violence, CASE saw a clear need and opportunity to engage men as active participants in a men’s project. The need for positive role-models in young people’s lives was identified in early strategic assessments. This suggested that the cycle of violence can be broken by developing positive male role-models who function as mentors in violent communities.
CASE aims to develop healthy male role models in the community and sees absent fathers and unhealthy male role models as major root causes of violence and community dysfunction. The Men’s Mentoring Project, as one of many of CASE’s projects, has been very successful and has been a solid base from which other activities have taken place.
The core objective of this project is to assist men in understanding and engaging in their roles as men in the community. The project is run throughout the year and involves different activities and processes which facilitate the:
- Recruitment, training and strengthening of men in the community to be mentors and change agents;
- Strengthening of relationships and confidence in a community where the men are the main perpetrators of domestic violence, gangsterism and other deviant behaviour; and
- Support of a holistic community process through inter-generational learning, action and evaluation.
How we do it
Using the mentoring concept, men are engaged in personal development training which sensitizes men to the impact that their involvement has on their children and on their relationships with their partners. The personal development encourages men to be more actively engaged in their families and in their communities, and provides support for men in being self-aware, responsive and responsible. As a result of this process, men are able to participate in community development through mentoring other men, male youth and boys.
The model innovates in constructing self-fulfilling cycles of support and psychological well-being in spite of the constant violence in our community. Our participants demonstrate a new paradigm in measuring theory with a sense of belongingness and understanding of the community they help to heal. Despite our recent organizational restructuring, our community and participants have continued to enact our methodology with serious strength and resolve, demonstrating the value of our method and the wholesale change it can represent.
What we have achieved
The men now feel equipped with skills and tools needed to facilitate change and influence their families and communities. They have actively engaged in problem sharing and solving, practicing alternative roles and behaviours than resorting to violence. Many have shifted their understanding about their responsibilities as a man, a father and husband but these theoretical shifts are also then applied in the reality of their situations. The men are able to implement their learned skills and knowledge, receive feedback and reinforce the qualities and adjust to being a man of influence.
What we have learned
CASE believes that through helping an individual to make an internal change and working with them to develop ways to pay it forward, considerable change can spiral outward into our community, making it safer for everyone and healthier as a result.
For further information please contact Camelita Prins, Communications and Sustainability Officer, Community Action Towards a Safer Environment (CASE).
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