By Zizi Ndayi
The Hlumela Bekentla Boy Child Foundation was founded by a 24 year oldfemale Hlumela Bekentla. She hails from Umtata, also the reigning Miss OR Tambo 2019 and a Walter Sisulu University student. This community development project is the brain child of the young Eastern Caper.
The academy is about teaching boys about their roles and their importance in the society. She said the academy is about, “Reaching out to our young men and making them understand that while their roles might need to change, they are just as important to society. Their work is to help boys to find themselves for them to be able to speak out.
“She adds that, “Finding one’s identity and place in society, dealing with depression, anger, anxiety and offer a platform to celebrate a boy, we work tirelessly to empower and encourage boys to look at their lives in a safe context in order to boost their self-confidence and better understanding of their capabilities”.
“The inspiration behind having this academy is that, the majority of people who are always encouraged motivated and made to feel protected are girls. Hlumela believes that much of South Africa’s national discourse has been consumed with empowering the girl child after years of marginalisation and exclusion. While this was an important and necessary step, it has compromised how the boy child acts and responds. As much as girls and boys face similar pressures and complex situations in their school years, the way boys experience and handle these pressures tends to be different from girls. Boys communicate very differently from girls or do not communicate at all,” said Bekentla. The programme is designed specifically for boys to try and tackle challenges they face on a daily basis.
Hlumela believes empowerment takes many forms, they will be focusing on giving support, encouragement and motivation. It is undeniable that some of the issues that men go through they lack proper guidance and support because of the metal label “Men Are Strong, Indoda Ayikhali” (A Man does not cry). This foundation has got some support and donations. She said, “My biggest support so far has been Tyeks Security Company in Mthatha which has contributed and donated huge amounts of money to the foundation.”
She also adds that every chance they get, they give back. The next handover will be on February 23 in East London at Duncan Village Primary Secondary School where they will be donating dignity packs and having empowerment question and answer sessions with the boys.
The academy are walking tirelessly to have their own offices. “At the moment we do not have offices, but it is something we are working towards achieving in the near future. We offer our support in the form of roadshows were we visit places and we get to do our programs” Hlumela adds.