NGO’s guest speakers motivate boys to avoid crime and other social ills

Majiya High School in Umlalazi ward 16 and Old Mill High School Grade 10 pupils and community leader. Picture: Supplied

Majiya High School in Umlalazi ward 16 and Old Mill High School Grade 10 pupils and community leader. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 19, 2024


Durban — In an effort to encourage young men to have difficult conversations, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Stand Out has worked with different speakers as part of its Day of the African Child Leadership boot camp during Youth Month.

Recently, guest speakers included Mbuyiseni Vilakazi who covered entrepreneurship; Sibonakaliso Mkhize discussed mentorship; Sidingo Ngobese covered mental health; Thokozani “TK” Mkhwanazi spoke about leadership; uMntwana Sibusiso Zulu tackled sexuality while main speaker Mlungisi Zondi addressed gender-based violence.

Stand Out founder Zandile Mthimkhulu said the discussions addressed young men in Grade 10 on general challenges. The organisation targets schools within communities with high violence rates.

“The programme targeted young men who are learners in communities that have high violence such as Majiya High School in Umlazi ward 16 and Old Mill High School that faces high violence and often learners are caught up in the crossfire.

“Our speakers provided sound advice to the learners. Guest speaker Mlungisi Zondi spoke about violence, HIV and drug addiction based on his personal experience.”

Mthimkhulu said that the theme was education for all children in Africa.

“Every year on June 16 we celebrate the African child. We also speak to learners about their challenges and encourage them to avoid social ills,” said Mthimkhulu.

Mlungisi Dunn (iCora FM station manager), Zandile Mthimkhulu (Stand Out Foundation founding director), Mlungisi Zondi (guest speaker, who is an ex-convict, ex-street kid, ex-drug addict, rape survivor, and HIV activist). Picture: Supplied

Zondi, who is a motivational speaker, HIV activist, author and works for the Research Health Institution at Wits in Gauteng, addressed some of the greatest public health concerns affecting the region, including HIV and its related problems, sexual and reproductive health and vaccinology.

Zondi, who lives in Mamelodi, works as a coach for men and has been living with HIV for 19 years. He served a 10-year sentence for murder in Westville Prison and later at Sun City.

“At the boot camp discussion, I spoke about the importance of avoiding drugs, crime and gender-based violence, based on my personal experience. Growing up in KwaMashu, I was introduced to crime at an early age. At age 14, I was already carrying a gun and part of notorious gangs. At 16 I was convicted of murder. In prison, I was raped and contracted HIV.”

Zondi welcomed being invited to speak to young male pupils.

“There are more programmes to empower women than men. There are cultural practices to help young girls such as Umkhosi Womhlanga for the Zulu culture but young men lack guidance.”

Mlungisi Zondi spoke to Grade 10 pupils about crime and gender-based violence. Picture: Supplied

Zondi also spoke to the pupils about peer pressure and substance abuse, saying most of the issues that young men face are related to the lack of male guidance and father figures.

He was a product of rape and never had a father to guide him, he said.

Therefore, he hopes to be that male voice for other young men growing up.

As for HIV awareness for children born HIV positive, he said parents should disclose to them early why they are taking the medication and teach them about using protection.

“I encourage the youth to focus on school. Stay far from drugs if you have started to get help from rehab.

“The rehab has to help you with your desire to stop. Also, if I managed to survive with HIV and take my medication for 19 years, what is stopping you?” he asked.

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