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Mentoring the next generation for a GBV-free future

Published: Dec 1, 2021 10:10:00 AM South Africa Standard Time

Mentoring the next generation for a GBV-free future The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women begins 16 Days of Activism, a time of year where the world must reflect on the egregious levels of violence endured by women. Although we must aid the victims of abuse, it is also a time to deeply consider ways of fixing the problem and do so at a grassroots level.

Liz Browne, Admin Manager at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings is passionately positive that the answer lies in changing the way young boys and girls grow up. Through Christian impact organisation, the i4118 Foundation, Liz and her partners have been raising up responsible, contributing members of society with the power of mentorship. This, she believes, is the key to reducing the gender-based violence that has run so rampant in our nation for so long.

When they originally founded the organisation, Liz says she dealt with a lot of kids in foster care. “They came from broken homes with many of them being victims of abuse. So, we knew we had a duty to provide these boys and girls with a healthy view on male-female dynamics. That we are all equal and that men and women need to treat each other with respect.”

Liz says this unhealthily male-female dynamic at home has influenced the rampant levels of gender-based violence that is found in in South Africa. “By giving these kids a healthy perspective, we can help to curb the impact of gender-based violence in this country as so many abusers learn their ways from their abusive upbringing.”

Being a mentor and ‘second mom’ to two girls herself, Liz became keenly aware of how these young girls view the way boys treat them. “So many of these girls suffer with feelings of inadequacy and lack the confidence to embrace their true selves. By teaching the children to embrace the right core values, we can give them the confidence they need to shine.”

The mentorship programme, which now encompasses 24 children, spans 16 boys and 8 girls. The programme starts as young as five year’s old with the oldest boy in the programme being 18.

Most of the boys in the programme come from homes with single mothers. Liz says the i4118 Foundation mentorship programme believes males should mentor boys. “Through the constant reinforcement from our two male mentors, who both have amazing strong relationships with women, we are changing the way these boys view and treat women.”

Liz believes that the mentoring of young people will play the vital role in stemming the tide of gender-based violence. “The need for a strong father figure is of the utmost important. As most of these boys don’t have a father in their lives, we are seeing a massive difference in the way these boys treat women even after a few months of mentorship.”

With the girls as well, Liz believes having a healthy male mentor in their lives allows them to see what it means to be treated with respect. “Having strong, positive role models is key to growing strong moral people that can contribute to our society. And it should go beyond parents. Single mothers are not equipped to play the role of both mom and dad. These children need male and female role models.”

Liz and the i4118 Foundation were winners in the recent Momentum Metropolitan’s latest Lesedi Awards. Established in 2016, the Lesedi Awards were created to recognise employees who have taken ownership of the responsibility to work for the betterment of less fortunate communities. As winners, Liz was awarded a cash injection for the i4118 Foundation and was able to increase the impact of the mentorship programme.

“It has been so valuable to me that the company I work for is not only giving me the opportunity to make a difference but actively supporting me in the process. I truly believe that we can correct the course of history and grow a generation of healthy young men and women who respect each other and work together to build a brighter future.”

In parting, Liz says that you don’t need to join an organisation to make a difference. “Be a mentor to all young people that surround you in life. If you want to make a deeper impact, consider joining me at the i4118 Foundation and we will help grow the next generation of boys and girls in men and women we can all be proud of.”

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