The motto of The Mentoring Project is ‘We invest in children because children matter. They are our future, the future of our country’.

Founded in October last year by Herman Breedt, a pastor with the Every Nation Church Group, The Mentoring Project (TMP) is aimed at mentoring fatherless children through educational work centres at schools.

Herman Breedt with secretary Asanda and the principal, Morris Tshabalala of Lukhanyo Primary School. Herman mentors the school’s Grade 7 boys and regularly takes them on after-school excursions.

Herman closed his construction business after 22 years to dedicate himself full-time to preaching, counselling, and running community projects such as TMP. I met up with him at Lukhanyo Primary, where he works with the Grade 7 boys, more than half of whom are growing up in single-parent households and do not have fathers to look up to as role models.

“Mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts are carrying the full weight of parenting in the lives of children whose fathers are absent,” says Herman. “These households are taking strain with singleparent income, involvement, discipline and encouragement.

“Every child has the fundamental right to grow up with two parents to help launch them into life – a life that is already filled with so many challenges. Without a father even this basic right is out of reach for most and the challenges become almost insurmountable.”

Herman also points out that boys from absent-father homes are five times more likely to drop out of school and get involved with substance abuse and gangsterism. “The devastating effects are clearly visible in most surveys done across our nation and the world. TMP wants to stop this destructive social trend, for the sake of the future wellbeing of our children and the overall wellbeing of our community.”

As an after-school programme, TMP creates learning spaces where, Herman says, “we talk, laugh, play, learn and exercise together; we plant vegetables, dance and paint, and during these constructive times together deep foundational values are established and reinforced.”

The life skills modules addressed by the programme include physical, mental, spiritual and sexual aspects. “Single mothers are in desperate need of someone to support them in raising their sons. All these boys need is a man in their lives, someone who can spend quality time with them. As it is, schools are crowded and teachers are already overwhelmed. We need members of society to come on board to help with this important task.”

Herman quotes some shocking national statistics on education: Of the 1 180 000 children who started Grade 1 in 2006, only 620 000 were in the matric class of 2017. Of those, 401 000 passed matric, with 232 000 qualifying for tertiary education. Only half of those complete their studies, and of the 116 000 graduates only about 10% are adequately trained for the workforce.

“Over 1 million children are in need of alternative skills training centres,” says Herman. “With our after-school mentorship programmes we aim to fill that gap. TMP takes hands with local schools and uses the avenues of education, technology, art and sport to develop critical life and leadership skills.”

As an example, Herman showed me the computer centre at Lukhanyo Primary School, where dozens of computers and tablets received from the WCED were gathering dust for two years simply, says Herman, “because no-one knew what to do with them”. With Herman’s help, the staff have now been trained and the computer centre is fully operational. He is very grateful for the assistance they have received from the WCED, which also sponsors two assistants and a 20MB fibre optic line.

But TMP needs the help of the community and local businesses, says Herman. ”Social development is not just a buzzword. It must be a necessary partnership between local businesses and NGO’s. Nongovernmental and Non-profit organisations are critical players in the field to assist society and government at large in creating a better living space for all.” Although at present TMP is focused on fatherless boys, Herman says they also plan to involve girls in their programmes in the near future.

“The bottom line is that if we want healthy adults in society, we need to cultivate healthy children. In order to do this we must develop a common goal and work together towards community upliftment through education and assist our local disadvantaged schools to function optimally in order to give our children the best possible education.”

The most sustainable financial model for TMP is to establish partnerships, says Herman. “Small contributions from local businesses on a monthly basis will enable TMP to perform its daily task in the communities and schools. Our partners will be informed about our activities every month and the progress we have made as, together, we share the joy of intervention, upliftment and transformation, and celebrate the changes in our children’s lives.”

Businesses have the two options of either setting up a recurring payment via internet banking for an amount they feel comfortable with, to be paid monthly on the day of their choice; or committing to an amount for which TMP will send a monthly invoice, to be paid at their convenience.

The Mentoring Project South Africa is a registered NPC (Number 2017 / 313 023 / 08) to engage in Public Benefit.

Banking Details: The Mentoring Project SA, FNB Bank, Acc No 627 114 78 223, Branch code 250 655

Herman Breedt can be contacted on 083 225 8119 or herman@thementoringproj ect.co.za or via Facebook: thementoringproject

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