‘There’s an opportunity for every father to change the future’

Being a father , Working with fathers

“Sometimes as ministers, we hide behind the pulpit. I think it’s easy to stand behind the pulpit and preach … but to actively be involved with our children, and our youth, we think we’re getting it done, but we’re not.”

These strong words from Ernest Yeketsamy, Pastor at Rose of Verulam, reflect his fresh commitment to investing in positive, active and present fathering in his community in the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) after attending the Fathers Matter Ambassador Conference earlier this month.

Ernest shared these sentiments after three days of profound fellowship, teaching and workshops. The conference took place at the Skogheim Christian Conference Centre in Port Shepstone. Here, delegates from different parts of the province gathered to talk about the importance of fatherhood, share their fatherhood stories and brainstorm solutions to our nation’s fatherhood challenges.

Inspiring waves of change

During the conference, which included an address from Heartlines Senior Programme Manager Brian Helsby and a one-man play about an absent father performed by Titus Mekgwe, delegates were encouraged to also engage with their own stories of fathering and being fathered.

“From this conference one of the conversations I want to have at home is how do I celebrate my 24-year-old daughter? … I’ve [also] made notes to follow up with my brother’s kids, as he has passed away. This conference was just men and women sharing their stories, and God began to use their stories to go for my life!” shared Andile Mafa, who serves on the eldership team at Livingstones Agency in Umlazi.

Andile’s experience echoed Heartlines KZN rep Craig Bouchier’s inspirational talk that reflected on generational trauma, his childhood and the immaterial wealth his dad left him.

“Fatherhood goes beyond biology,” said Bouchier “There’s an opportunity for every father to change the future of the next generation through restoring fatherhood. Fathers are the catalysts to restoring order.”

Women’s voices in this critical conversation

Led by Fathers Matter project director Zamabongo Mojalefa, women’s voices on issues of fatherhood in our nation were also given a platform during a panel discussion. Women shared their own stories and encouraged men to continue reflecting on their personal experiences, to commit to showing up positively and actively in their children’s lives, and to call their communities up to a better fatherhood story.

“Most of the problems we have emanate from the household, how people were brought up, what they experienced, and their fathers [being] away from them... So what I experienced here, I felt the power and the way God wants to change our country. I'm sure that if we can double the efforts of Fathers Matter, we'll experience a big change,” said Bishop Sibusiso Mbuyazi, who is the chairperson of the Spiritual Crime Prevention programme that works with the South African Police Service in KZN.

To connect with a Fathers Matter ambassador or rep in the KZN area, you can email the Fathers Matter team.

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