Project Description

The Bophelong Surrogate Father programme. 

Situated close to the Vaal River in Vanderberbijl Park, and home to roughly 100,000 people, Bophelong is a microcosm of many underdeveloped communities in South Africa. With high levels of unemployment, substance abuse, teenage pregnancies, domestic violence and rape Bophelong is a community in crisis.

FAN started working in Bophelong in 2010 with the goal of equipping and mobilising men to become surrogate fathers to the many orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s) in the community. 

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Men looking after
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households and
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orphans and vulnerable children.

South Africa has an estimated 4 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s), with a growing number of them living in sibling led households.

Fatherlessness is rife. The greatest challenge faced by educators in the community is not so much the lack of resources but rather the level of dysfunction in the homes of the learners. Very few learners go home to a stable home with a mom and dad both working.  A high proportion of learners do not have a father who is involved in their lives in any meaningful way.

Over a four-year period, FAN carefully selected 40 men from the community and put them through an extensive training and restoration programme.

The impact on the men was significant – for most it was a turning point in their lives.  From this group we employed 22 men we called FANS and set them to work in providing psycho-social support to troubled households and developing programmes for the OVC’s in the community.

South Africa has an estimated 4 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s), with a growing number of them living in sibling led households.

Fatherlessness is rife. The greatest challenge faced by educators in the community is not so much the lack of resources but rather the level of dysfunction in the homes of the learners. Very few learners go home to a stable home with a mom and dad both working.  A high proportion of learners do not have a father who is involved in their lives in any meaningful way.

Over a four-year period, FAN carefully selected 40 men from the community and put them through an extensive training and restoration programme.

The impact on the men was significant – for most it was a turning point in their lives.  From this group we employed 22 men we called FANS and set them to work in providing psycho-social support to troubled households and developing programmes for the OVC’s in the community.

There were a number of critical elements to the programme:

1. Selection of the right candidates

2. A programme which effectively restores and equips men

3. Setting up a mentoring relationship between the FANS and OVC’s

4. A monitoring and evaluation structure to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the relationship

5. Ongoing development and support of the FANS

6. Provision of effective programmes for the OVC’s in the areas of personal development, sport, art, and culture

There were a number of critical elements to the programme:

1. Selection of the right candidates

2. A programme which effectively restores and equips men

3. Setting up a mentoring relationship between the FANS and OVC’s

4. A monitoring and evaluation structure to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the relationship

5. Ongoing development and support of the FANS

6. Provision of effective programmes for the OVC’s in the areas of personal development, sport, art, and culture

Beneficiaries

The 22 FANS provided support to over 80 orphans and vulnerable children from 42 homes and ran numerous programmes including maths and science tutoring, life skills development, HIV AIDS, support for care givers, cricket, soccer, volleyball, netball, dancing, drama, youth group, vegetable gardens, FAN development and assisting men to overcome substance abuse.

Over 1,000 learners benefitted from our tutoring programme in the 3 high schools in Bophelong

Dealing with delinquent behaviour

Some of the cases we dealt with were nothing short of tragic. One of the households had a fourteen-year old boy whose mother had five children with four different men and had died the year before from AIDS. The only adult in the house was an ailing grandmother who had no control whatsoever over the children. The young boy and a group of his friends were alleged to have repeatedly raped his half-sister who was twelve years old at the time. He was involved in a range of delinquent behaviours such as theft, vandalism, and substance abuse. We allocated one of the older, wiser FANS to the home and began to gain an understanding of the dynamics that drove him and saw a substantial shift in his behaviour.

In 2015 we unfortunately had to end the programme due to a lack of funding.

Beneficiaries

The 22 FANS provided support to over 80 orphans and vulnerable children from 42 homes and ran numerous programmes including maths and science tutoring, life skills development, HIV AIDS, support for care givers, cricket, soccer, volleyball, netball, dancing, drama, youth group, vegetable gardens, FAN development and assisting men to overcome substance abuse.

Over 1,000 learners benefitted from our tutoring programme in the 3 high schools in Bophelong

Dealing with delinquent behaviour

Some of the cases we dealt with were nothing short of tragic. One of the households had a fourteen-year old boy whose mother had five children with four different men and had died the year before from AIDS. The only adult in the house was an ailing grandmother who had no control whatsoever over the children. The young boy and a group of his friends were alleged to have repeatedly raped his half-sister who was twelve years old at the time. He was involved in a range of delinquent behaviours such as theft, vandalism, and substance abuse. We allocated one of the older, wiser FANS to the home and began to gain an understanding of the dynamics that drove him and saw a substantial shift in his behaviour.

In 2015 we unfortunately had to end the programme due to a lack of funding.

CONTRIBUTE TO COMMUNITY PROGRAMMES

• Invite FAN to run a workshop for the staff in your company or organization.

• Sponsor a programme in a community or school of your choice

• Sponsor the printing of gender-based violence booklets (which can be branded for your organisation).

• Make an “in-kind” donation (contact FAN for a list of needs).

• Make a donation of any size– all contributions receive a Sec 18a certificate for tax.

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