Parenting Programme – Dare with Dads

The Ubaba Unathi Training uncovers many emotions. I am amazed at how well people cope when you hear their stories and see their tears when confronted with fatherlessness.
Pat told us about his frustration with his father with whom he shares a house. They eat together and say good night. Apart from that nothing happens in their relationship. His father spent time in social clubs and with his friends. But not with him. We advised him to talk to his father about it. What he did was beautiful.
At first he gave him the Ubaba Unathi manual to read. His father would make some comments. As time went by, his father would go to the social club and then, instead of staying out with friends, he would come home and read the Ubaba Unathi and Botswadi books with his son – the group leader. He made comments such as: “Is this what a parent should do? We never did this with you? Did you miss it?”
Wise Pat would take the manual every now and then to his dad, asking him to explain something he did not understand. That way his father had to focus reading passages which Pat wanted him to know. And they could talk about it.
One day his father told his friends that he will be bringing another friend to their get-together. “Who?” they wanted to know. “My son!” he said with pride. “Your SON?” And so Pat’s father promoted his son into a position which Pat craved for. In the end all his father’s friends brought along their adult children for a good get together!
With knowledge, love grows. With love joy overflows!

Parenting Programmes: Beauty where nothing grows

Early in August we had our Ubaba Unathi training in Diepsloot. Only half of the group leaders turned up and it was decided to find a new date.
So we took the road to Brown’s house with a boot full of donations for the Green Door Safe Place for abused women and children. It’s going real slow.
First we encounter taxi after taxi. The road is busy and restless. We turn into a road going downhill. Still busy, but this time with street vendors and people seeking each other’s company. Muddy water run down the road and in some spots potholes became dongas. Houses, some made of brick, others of wood or corrugated iron, line the road. Laundry on the lines add colour. Rubbish are strewn like hundreds and thousands on a kid’s birthday cake…as many but definitely not as beautiful.
We turn into a quieter street, although still full of rubbish and muddy water. Stones scratch against the floor of the car when we park. We have to watch carefully where we put down our feet. I look up when I reach the gate of the Green Door. Two wendy homes and a small brick house fit into a neat row. Next to it is a 3-4 metre wide walking area – not one piece of rubbish to see. Brown unlocks the one wendy where we put down all the bags. A bed and a few pieces of other furniture fill the room – ready to receive and protect someone in danger. Humble, but beautiful.
I am humbled by this man who did not find excuses for what he doesn’t have or cannot do. He used what he had, where he was and created beauty and safety where nothing grows. He gave expression to God’s promise to exchange a crown of beauty for ashes.

Parenting programmes: Mentor? Learner?

Since the beginning of our involvement in Soshanguve and Diepsloot Patrick and Caroline WhatsApped me with questions and challenging situations of group members. I answered and gave advice, but in some situations we felt I needed to go with them to help address the challenges.
“At the same time I could really mentor them in practise!” was my thinking.
We visited 4 families:
• A man with disabilities who years to do something about the situation of other disabled people;
• A woman who is in a marriage which she described as being on an island with nowhere to go;
• A three generational family living together with little income and pots of friction;
• A 35 year old woman who doesn’t know who her father is and her mother refuses to tell her.
I listened and gave some advice or suggested resources with which I had contact. But at one point I just fell silent. I saw two ordinary people focussing with great concern on the stories which unfolded in front of us. I heard them giving sound advice. I felt the care and empathy they expressed in dealing with these people. They acknowledged the need to be listened to. And I…I was the learner.
I learnt that everyone has an important story, worth listening to.
I learnt that I might have the knowledge, but insight comes with living with those in need.
I learnt that teachability brings growth – as I saw in these two group leaders.
I learnt that a little bit of interest and effort is a huge encouragement…as if it loosens energy to bring about change.
Plus, plus, plus!
The outcome of the 4 visits:
• A radio talk, clothes and the attention of the local counsellor to help with the plight of the disabled. There is still much to be done;
• Patrick talked 10 minutes to the husband of the woman “on an island.” He became positively involved in his marriage;
• A mediator has been contacted to help solving the friction;
• The 35 year old woman wrote a letter to her mother and gave it to her in person. She requested to know who her father is. Her mother wrote a letter in which she revealed that she was raped. She named the man who was known to the woman. They cried together – acknowledging the sadness of the situation, but the relief to have this huge secret out of the way was incredible.
Being a mentor is a humbling learnership.

Parenting Programmes: Still in Soshanguve

21 July.
Today we had our second training session. Ubaba Unathi – Daddy with us – is about Father Involvement.
Without words I heard their plea: “Where are you Daddy? Please be with us…! Before we turned the first page, stories came tumbling out. D knew his father all along, but didn’t know he was his father, until he was 35 years old. A month later he died.
When F was 2 her father died and no memories were kept alive. “Women are stubborn.” Men don’t lead.” Men are sick.” Women are medicine.” Men are dogs.” Women keep fathers away from their children.” “Men need to pay damage after making a girl pregnant, otherwise – no contact.”
“No!” it cries in me. “No!” I see tears. Downcast eyes. Brokenness. The atmosphere is thick. “We have to do things different – start anew. We can’t change what happened to us, but we have to help each other and our group members to be different, involved fathers and supportive mothers to our children.”
The last task was to write down one or two positive things they experienced in relationship with their fathers. They sat quietly for a moment and then dropped the pretense: “Nothing. I know nothing about him.” “I never knew him.” “He taught me to drive, but further – nothing.” Only then I asked directly who had a positive relationship with their fathers.
One hand went up!
I have to remind myself that trees will grow out of these ashes…!

Parenting Programmes: The Depth of Diepsloot

11th May took us to Diepsloot. 22 community members would be trained as Botswadi group leaders.

A small group of men and a single lady waited patiently outside the church. Kevin met them while I tried to come to terms with the tangible poverty. “Are these our people?” I wanted to know. “Certainly,” said Kevin.

Diepsloot is part of Johannesburg, but at the same time carries the feeling of being deep in Africa. Time, for one, is not an issue. The office lady was not there yet and no one knew where we should meet. We went to Diepsloot Mall to sort out refreshments and when we came back 45 minutes later, the crowd was bigger and the office open. At last we could sweep the floors of the meeting place, carry around tables and chairs, find some cups and get the coffee going.

Poverty sits deeper than clothing. Housing, language learning, possibility of skills development and exposure to role models of good family values and practises, are all affected by poverty. Poverty often excludes…! The upside of it all is a hunger for and appreciation of basic information and acceptance of themselves as they are. It also takes care of a few surprises!

One trainee has his own catering business and gets quickly the job to take care of refreshments for the group leaders’ meetings. Another one is a real activist and addresses almost every social injustice in Diepsloot! Yet another one was subsidised to start a “Green Door” safe place for abused women and children. Unfortunately he was left to his own devices to maintain the home financially. Funding is urgently needed. What is often seen as a place of violence and poverty, also seems to be a place where gems can be found and potential can be discovered and built upon.

Kevin Rutter, founder of Fathers in Africa and co-founder and co-leader of the Front Page Father Media Campaign, is the trainer in Diepsloot. He also trains the one group in Soshanguve.

I am Erna Rheeder, SAVF FAMNET coordinator as well as co-founder and co-leader of the Front Page Father Media Campaign. I train the other group in Soshanguve and I am mainly responsible for the administration of this exciting, worthy and hopeful project.

SAVF Parenting programmes – Hugs and Heights

Famnet_logoI think we totally fell in love with our Sohanguve/Eersterus group leaders! Every meeting is a celebration with hugs and laughs!
To add to that we started our second mentorship session with a practical demonstration of aggression management with newspapers. A lot of newspaper boxing, shredding and throwing around took place. We even heard newspaper fights in Kevin’s group! The beauty of it is that all felt better and no one was hurt! A perfectly acceptable way of getting rid of bad feelings.
In the end we made a ball of newspapers and the one with the ball had to share his group’s story before throwing the ball to the next one to share. That’s when we encountered the heights…as in high mountains of challenges! Parents share their pain of daily abuse for which group leaders seek advice. Some groups have only illiterate parents with a deep desire to be able to read. Our link with Project Literacy came in handy in that case.
With much talk on rights of children, parents and grannies are scared to take control of their parenting role…which is why we are here – to empower these parents with information and guidance. One of the huge complexities is sex education in situations where Mom and Dad are not together, other parties are involved and a family of up to 10 people live in a one-roomed house. Is it still a wonder that 25% of the parents represented in my group are teenagers? The “how?” and “what next?” get stuck in my mind…
The bright spots were there as well. Group members asked their leaders why the Botswadi programme is not presented at schools as well. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” said my heart! In another group the parents were concerned for the safety of their children after school. Ubuntu was at work! Before the end of their session they had a granny who would take care of the children. They also went to the crèche to discuss the possibility of after care facilities. That’s exciting!


Suid-Afrikaanse Gesinne is in ʼn Krisis

Int Familie dag“Suid-Afrikaanse gesinne is in ‘n krisis. Nie almal beleef dit nie, maar die wye prentjie bevestig dit keer op keer”, so sê Erna Rheeder, SAVF FAMNET koördineerder tydens Internasionale Gesindsag wat op 15 Mei 2015 wêreldwyd herdenk word.

Ongeveer 65% (12 miljoen) Suid-Afrikaanse kinders word sonder pa’s groot. “Dit laat ʼn groot leemte in kinders se lewens. Die effek van betrokke vaderskap in kinders se lewens is verreikend wat betref sekuriteit, intellektuele ontwikkeling, rol ontwikkeling en weerstand teen afhanklikheidsvormende gedrag”.

Enkelouergesinne oor die algemeen, het ʼn kleiner inkomste in vergelyking met twee-ouergesinne. Dit maak oorlewing dikwels moeilik en verklein die kans van die enkelouer-kind om die armoede-lokval later in sy of haar lewe te ontsnap .

Verder gaan armoede, gebrekkige seksopvoeding en verswakte gesinsverhoudings hand-aan-hand met tienerswangerskap. “Suid-Afrika het uitermatig groot aantal tienerswangerskappe.  Volgens 2012 statistiek was 39% van meisies, tussen die ouderdom van 15 en 19 jaar reeds eenkeer swanger.  Tydens ʼn onlangse oueropleidingsprogram in Pretoria, was 25% van die kursus gangers tiener-ouers waarvan meestal reeds twee kinders gehad het”, sê Rheeder.

Rheeder het ook genoem dat sowat 28% van alle Suid-Afrikaanse kinders jaarliks fisies mishandel word, terwyl bykans die helfte van kinders (42%) emosioneel mishandel word.

“Ons kinders het die reg tot beskerming, maar kan nie hulleself beskerm nie. Dit ouers se verantwoordelikheid om kinders te beskerm. Tog staan ouers dikwels magteloos teen die media invloede, geweld in die samelewing, of die ander ouer wat juis skade doen”.

“Dit het tyd geword dat die aktivis in elke landsburger vreesloos opstaan en daaraan saamwerk om gesinne te versterk en gesinswaardes weer eerste te stel. Dit is duidelik dat mense wat net oorleef en dit dikwels in enkelouergesinne doen, min weet van oueropvoeding. Die honger na inligting wat kind-grootmaak kan verbeter is ontsaglik groot. Ouerleiding bemagtig ouers en verminder gesinsgeweld. Die staat het begin belê in die aanbied van goeie ouerskapsprogramme en moet dit verder uitbrei. Die armstes het dit die nodigste”.

Volgens Rheeder is daar tog hoop vir die gesinskrisis in Suid Afrika. “ Ons sien daagliks tydens die Front Page Father oueropleidingskursusse hoe pa’s verantwoordelikheid neem.  Dikwels was hierdie mans self mishandel toe hy jonger was en het sonder ʼn pa grootgeword.  Deur geloof, insette van rolmodelle en innerlike oortuigings het hulle gekies het om hulle gesinne anders te hanteer en ʼn verskil in ander se lewens te maak.”



Cost Effective Health Care on International Nurses’ Day Agenda

SAVnurses dayF commemorate International Nurses Day on Tuesday, 12 May 2015. The Organisation supports this year’s theme that focus on the role that nurses play in delivering cost effective health care to all.

“The theme for International Nurse’s Day 2015 is ‘Nurses: A force for change: care, effective, cost effective’. The cost of healthcare is rising worldwide, placing a heavy financial burden on health systems. South Africa is no exception. The large influx of migrants from neighbouring countries makes it difficult to plan and execute adequate financing, cost effectiveness, and resource management in health care facility throughout the country. The decisions that nurses make in everyday practice makes a vital difference in the financial efficiency and effectiveness of the South African health care system”, according to Sonet Roos, SAVF Nursing service co-ordinator.

As part of this years International Nurses day awareness campaign, the Democratic Nurses Association of South Africa (DENOSA) distributed a kit containing tools and information that assist nurses to become engaged in -, and knowledgeable about – health system financing.

“SAVF will use this kit to empower our trainee nurses, as well as qualified nurses working in our facilities. The kit provides an overview of health financing, the efficient use of resources and efficient service delivery. It is of utmost importance for SAVF, as a non-profitable organisation, to utilise our human  – and financial resources in the best possible way to ensure that the best health care is provided and nurses play a pivotal role in this endeavour”.

What is so special about mentorship?

Now what is so special about mentorship?

I get a huge kick out of stories. Being a mentor means listening to stories. Oh how these group leaders love sharing their stories!
They need to put their stories into words and to make sense of it. They need to find others who share similar experiences who will say: “I will come with you” or “I understand.” And we only facilitate it.
They need to hear they are doing well…and we heard of beautiful things happening in their groups. Bright spots which we could lift out and say: “Well done!” We see passion, enthusiasm, joy, excitement, care and it is so easy to encourage more of it.
Being alone with a passion for change often kills the passion and prevents good action. But as one of 44 people with 2 mentors in the background, that passion flames into a blazing fire of change.
I love getting to know people. After a morning of training I often don’t even know the names of the trainees. But these mentorship sessions take us beyond that. We build relationships. We care. We empower, encourage, cry and celebrate with them.
Our first mentorship session included presenting certificates. One of the trainees is a professional photographer and offered a proper photo shoot for each leader. What a celebration! The joy and sense of belonging were felt strongly!
Above all this is my calling. God called me to bring good news, bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness. They will rebuild…, restore…, renew! They, the same people who started out in darkness and pain. (Isa 61)
He promised: “I am going to do something in your days that you will not believe, even if you were told!” (Hab 1:5)
Watch this spot!

More on parenting programmes

30th April. Our first mentorship session.
Our training session on 16 April started at 9h00. In reality we began 10h15…with 15 people…and ended the day with 44!
But on 30th April groups of people were waiting at the gate by 8h30 already! We smiled and hugged and buzzed as everyone shared their news. We took Steve, our filmmaking friend, with to video record the stories. And what stories we got!
Everyone recruited group members – between 6 and 12 each. There were grannies, parents in their 20’s to 50’s and teenage parents. I counted almost 50 teenage parents being presented in my group leaders’ groups. They had challenges, but they mostly enjoyed their first sessions. And all of them agreed that this programme is making a difference.
A 20 year old group leader gathered 6 teenage moms for her group sharing the importance of communication with their children and support for each other.
Anna shared the story of an 18 year old mother of 2 who lost all people close to her at an early age and never experienced being loved and cherished. Now she would often leave her own children alone at home, spending no time with them and neglecting their basic needs…because she did not know how. Her firstborn was already at school going age, but still at home. She was encouraged to care for her children and to spend quality time with them. Anna went to school with her to register the little girl and altogether this was a beautiful new beginning for this family.
The grannies in the groups mostly resisted being taught by young group leaders, but soon relaxed, realising all group members need each other. They are mostly in groups with teenage parents. “This is the opportunity to begin experiencing Ubuntu again,” was the general feeling in the group.
Challenges which were discussed were lack of communication, bullying behaviour, managing aggression, sexual exploitation, moms and dads pulling children apart and abuse of nyope – the common drug found among children.
We haven’t solved all the problems yet. We don’t have all the answers. But we presented a tool which empowered group leaders to bring hope and light in the lives of people living in darkness.