Teen establishes men empowerment foundation

06 July 2021 | Youth

Hambeleleni Kamati & Leandrea Louw

Anna Ndara (16) a young activist currently attending the International School of Walvis Bay (ISWB), and is on a mission to empower the young men of today.

Ndara founded a male empowerment organisation in May 2021, the Auni Azizi foundation, which translates to helping the valuable in Swahili.

The foundation revolves around the motto “evolving boys to be responsible empowered gentlemen” and aims to combat societal issues regarding the boy child by empowering them mentally as well as emotionally while teaching them accountability, responsibility, discipline and individualism, which all promote healthy masculinity.

“Witnessing the negligence society shows towards the boy child was the driving force behind establishing the foundation. Statistics show that about 70% criminals and street kids are of the male gender. This figure alone screams ‘we are neglected’. As a young woman, knowing that there are many organisations that cater for the girl child and noticing the slack in boy child empowerment, I decided to be the change I wanted to see and started the foundation, Ndara stated.

To kick-off the activities of the foundation, a summit was hosted in Walvis Bay. According to Ndara, the objective of this summit was to help men build healthy brotherly bonds with each other.

“It was also hosted to remind the boy child that leadership or greatness isn't defined or determined by gender but by impact, purpose and power.”

The men in attendance were addressed by various speakers who encouraged them to be respectable and accountable leaders in their community, while at the same time being aware of their emotional well-being.

Dr Ockert Jansen, a member of the Coastal Drug Awareness Campaign (CODAC) Namibia, focused on intention, thinking skills and the importance of mental health when it comes to men.

“School-going girls have set up a foundation, catering strictly to the empowerment of men, and it is a delight; something I have never seen before. The young men of Walvis Bay are willing to partake in such events and it’s a pleasing improvement to tackle the elephant in the room, which is breaking the generational curse of ‘men are trash’.”

Another of the motivational speakers, Pius Samuel, who is also a youth activist and public speaker, stated that as men, they have a role to play in assisting each other in getting rid of male toxicity.

“There are certain things we need to go back to in terms of our definition of a man. The issue of emotions is important. You find broken men doing things they are not supposed to do. There is a need to heal. Speak up! You don't have all the answers. You cannot help yourself. Sometimes it is fine to say I have a problem, I need help. You will think you have it, until one day you are killing women.”

Samuel said it was very impressive to see young men, eager and willing to positively contribute to tackling issues regarding them in the community.

Hidipo Johannes, a motivational speaker, said men need to find themselves and that they are not perfect.

“We also have emotions. Do not let society tell you that you should not cry. Our grandfathers also cried, even if their wives did not know it. It becomes dangerous when emotions build up. You will start hurting people.”

The event was concluded with the message ‘leading the boy child to be a positive impact in the external and internal world one step at a time’, which was the main encouragement and objective for the young men who attended the event to take home and put into practice.

The Auni Azizi foundation is led by an all-female executive team, with ages ranging from 16 to 18.

“The feedback from the summit was mind-blowing. We have a variety of events we want to host, but due to Covid-19 we have to be mindful. Our next project is establish a mentorship programme since we realised that a lot of the men who attended the summit did not have mentors,” Ndara said.

The foundation is can be followed on Instagram @Auni_Azizi.

“The young men of today should remember that you are worthy, and valuable. Your greatness is not determined by your genitals. To the young women, you know you are queens. Know your worth. The future is not only female and male, but the future is both. Let us stand together as Namibian youth and ensure gender equality in our country.”

PHOTO CAPTION: The speakers and attendees of the first ever male summit hosted by the Auni Azizi foundation.

Photos contributed