Siyanqoba – MENtoring young boys to encourage them to grow into good men

Posted on Posted in Learners

Grade 4 teacher, Tawanda Mangwiro, has been working with The Character Company and some of the other male staff members to help young boys grow into good men by instilling honourable values. The programme started in 2019 in response to the increasing number of young men in our community who have absent, or emotionally absent fathers. This long-term programme involves the boys and their mentors in small, age-similar group activities, on a weekly basis during term times, at which they discuss the monthly topic in a fun and interactive fashion. During school holidays and at weekends, we host activities and camps to bring all the age groups together and to allow the MENtors to spend more quality time with the boys in a fun environment.

The programme, initiated by Jaco van Schalkwyk of The Character Company, advocates for better treatment of women and children in the community and is based on instilling the following values through its activities:

• Respect – to treat others, their belongings and their time the way you want to be treated.
• Honesty – to tell the truth even when it is difficult.
• Self-Discipline – to do the right thing before someone tells you to.
• Courage – to face your fears and conquer them.
• Kindness – to show that you have a good heart.

Jaco van Schalkwyk says, “We believe that each boy should know the 5 values, understand what they mean, understand how to practically apply them to his life and most importantly know that without Jesus it is impossible to do this. In this way we help raise boys to be good men with strong values, positively impacting families, communities and society.”

Our MENtors

Siyanqoba, the African Angels programme, accommodates 22 boys from grades 4-7 and has mentors from the school and local community; Tawanda (Grade 4 teacher), Farai (Grade 5 teacher), local resident and Waldorf educator Tom, Marius (the Regional Character for The Character Company) and Fanie (the boys’ hostel manager). Each mentor is selected because they are men with good standing and values in the community. They must be willing and able to commit their time and be dedicated to having a positive influence on the boys in their care. The MENtors, as they are known, are not necessarily qualified in anything, they are men, older than 25, who have had a journey of discovery of their own. Their objective is to become someone who the boys can look up to and trust for as long as they are needed.

At African Angels, we have adapted The Character Company programme to include those boys at our school who do have present fathers. We encourage those that are potentially good role models, to become their own son’s mentor. We give the fathers and their son’s guidance and access to the programme activities to help them.

It works!

Tawanda has been involved in the programme since its inception and has seen the benefits in the boys he interacts with. He says, “One of my learners faced the loss of both his parents. Through the relationship which the programme had developed between us, I was able to support him through this process, teaching him how to regain his self-confidence and taking him through the process of healing after his devastating loss.”