Non-Profit Organisation, Father A Nation (FAN) is marking this 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children by announcing the opening of its first #NOEXCUSES community centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg on Wednesday 8 December.

FAN hopes that the centre will be the first of many spaces providing men and boys with the tools to be better citizens and deal with hardships and rage in a healthy way. It calls on society to encourage positive affirmations for the role that men and boys can play in making our society better.

The support centre in Alexandra will provide the much-needed training and support to men in the Alex community, empowering them to become a source of upliftment and protection in their communities and families. “Bringing back the values of protecting families especially women and children and the value of fatherhood in disadvantaged communities starts with men and boys getting the support they need to be better men,” says FAN founder and CEO, Craig Wilkinson.

Also a bestselling South African author, award winning social entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Wilkinson adds, “It is not enough to simply create awareness and address the issues faced by victims of GBV if the potential perpetrators are not adequately addressed, humanised and involved in the healing process our communities desperately need.”

It is clear that South African men have experienced great trauma and hardship in the decades leading up to democracy. This is to say nothing of the socio-economic pressures which continue to weigh on families and individuals in disadvantaged communities.

“Far reaching impact is what we look for when it comes to supporting a cause and the important work FAN does stretches through many communities and will be felt for generations to come. It’s an honour to be part of their noble journey in building our nation,” says Costa Carastavrakis, Head of Marketing at Bettabets, a sports betting company that donated office furniture to the value of over R100 000 to the #NOEXCUSES centre.

FAN has always emphasised the importance of investing time and resources into the uplifting of boys, men and fathers of society as a key element in healing broken homes and curbing the surge of violence against women and children.

“We are living at a point of crisis where 80% of South African homes have children but no father. We are also seeing the rates of rape and other forms of GBV continue to escalate during the Covid-19 era,” says Wilkinson. “No man is born an abuser or an absent father. It is a result of years and sometimes generations of neglected trauma, incomplete childhoods and socio-economic ills. These are by no means excuses for the violence we are seeing, but they represent an opportunity to deal with the problem at its root.”

To reduce GBV we need to first understand why it is happening and then put in place interventions to address the root cause. This 16 Days of Activism FAN wants to change the narrative that GBV campaigning should be aimed primarily at victims.

On the contrary, by banding together with the men and boys who have the power to break the cycle of violence. By giving them support and creating messaging directed at them, the fight against GBV will have more allies and start to see real lasting change. By changing the narrative, shifting from a focus on the victim, to a focus on the perpetrator in order to identify why GBV is happening and developing programmes and interventions to prevent it from happening.

The first #NOEXCUSE support centre boasts the services FAN mentors including community leader Charles Mpepho who will provide counselling, training and mentoring services for men and boys who want to be part of the change. The aim of the centre is to equip community members with skills, awareness and resources that will allow them to understand their power and role in society and make it work for their self-improvement and the greater good.

This ground-breaking initiative has been made possible by the generous donations of beverage group, ABInBev, Carling Black Label the primary sponsor of the center, as well as Bettabets.