“Today I can say that my involvement with Khulisa has allowed me to see life in a different context. It has been a long journey with uncountable obstacles that I had to overcome but I am content where I am today.

I am very passionate about the work I do at Khulisa and I especially appreciate the opportunity to pass on all the knowledge and skills that I have acquired with the organization because I know how much that can change in a person’s life.”
The “Tug of War” parenting workshop is part of the diversion programme that helps young offenders to change their behavior and reintegrate into the community.

Michael is 16 years old and resides with his mother and his uncles at Umlazi F section in Durban. The family struggled to provide for Michael as all his family members were unemployed and they had to cope with a little bit of money from Michael’s father and his child grant. Michael got into conflict with the law and he was charged of using and found in possession of dagga. He was referred to Khulisa by Umlazi Magistrate court and after he acknowledged his wrongdoing, he joined Khulisa’s Positively Cool Diversion programme.

In the early stages of the programme, Michael was unable to interact with other group members. He was always very quiet and the facilitators tried to speak to him and find out why he is so withdrawn. Michael explained how difficult it is for him to interact with others because he feels ashamed that his mother is unemployed even thought she is a qualified nurse. Smoking dagga helped him to forget about his difficult situation at home, even though he knows about the dangers of smoking.

As part of the whole intervention, Michael’s mother attended a parent’s workshop and told the facilitator that MK used to go to church before he started abusing dagga. He was actually a very good gospel singer and a soccer player. His mother also realised how much Michael suffers from her unemployment and it hurts her that he always introduces his family with the words “my mother is an unemployed qualified nurse”.

To help Michael even more, the facilitator referred Michael to a mentor for counselling and additional support. His mentor engaged with the whole family and helped them to find possible solutions together. Michael showed improvements in the group and started to interact with other group members. He was even able to come up with ideas and solutions during group discussions and group activities. His mother tried hard to implement all the advice she has gained in the parent’s workshop to assist Michael and to educate him what he should do to improve his own life. After a while, she could observe a change in his behaviour. He stopped using drugs and accompanied her to church again. The two of them shared everything they had learned from Khulisa’s Diversion Programme. It was a very special moment when Michael apologised to his mother for his bad behaviour and for being in conflict with the law.

After successfully completing the diversion programme, Michael joined a soccer team and he is now one of the Khulisa’s soccer team members based at Umlazi area.

Khulisa designed the “Tug of War” workshop to assist parents who wish to raise responsible young adults and managed to implement this programme in several regions in South Africa.

No child in this world can exist in isolation and they are always influenced by their parents, other family members, teachers and their environment in general. It is important to understand that their behaviour is usually just the result of all their experiences. Unfortunately many children and adolescents in South Africa show a problematic, violent or delinquent behavior which has a negative impact on their families and communities. Throughout all the years of experiences, Khulisa has understood that it is incredibly difficult for parents to realise that their children misbehave or might even ruin their future. And they often feel helpless and don’t know how to cope with this situation or even help their children. They might even start to punish or abuse their children and this leads to a vicious circle of negative interactions and more severe behavioural problems on the side of the children. There is a huge need to support parents and caregivers and empower them to raise their children in a more positive way and live in peace within their family.

Apart from that, Khulisa has realized that it is a futile approach to offer programmes for children without changing the environment they live in. Parents and caregivers in general have a huge influence on the well-being as well as the behavior of their children.

The “Tug of War” programme aims to empower parents, care givers and significant others with basic parenting skills to assist their children with the daily challenges they encounter. It is designed for everyone who wishes to raise responsible young adults but struggles with the behavioural problems of the children. A family group conferencing session also forms part of the programme to re-connect families and find possible solutions together.

Throughout the programme, participants become more conscious of all the challenges families with adolescents encounter and learn how families, parents and adolescents are affected by external factors such as peer pressure, alcohol & drug abuse, bullying. Even though these situations often seem hopeless, the parents and caregivers are empowered to work towards a positive change in their environment. The workshop also helps them to improve their communication style and equips them with skills to avoid conflict and estranged relationships within their family.