Helping men to change

2010-08-09 00:00

IN an initiative designed to “challenge the culture of silence” that often operates among men around issues like spirituality and sexuality, about 45 men gathered in the city on Saturday for the first inter-faith Spirituality and Man (Sam) meeting.

One of the organisers was Anglican priest Reverend Bonginkosi Mkhize, who is also a hospital chaplain and active in the field of HIV and Aids. He said: “HIV and Aids are a huge issue, but one that we can use as a platform to educate and inspire men and help them to rethink how they approach their lives in general. We also need to help bring out the positive qualities that they have.”

Said Sam facilitator Heresh Girdhari, “Many men are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with self-reflection and introspection, so we aim to create a safe space for them to do that and to share their experiences with other men.”

Held at the Tembalethu Trust offices in the CBD, the meeting consisted of talks, discussions, workshop activities, silent reflection and meditation.

Several participants The Witness spoke to responded positively to the project.

Phumlani Hlatshwayo of Wembley said he found the workshop useful as it provided an opportunity for men to communicate with each other. “It gave us a chance to think about what is happening within ourselves. If we can start change within ourselves as individuals, then it can spread to others.”

Lucky Mbanjwa of Sweetwaters agreed, saying “We need to be more aware of our internal life if we want to be able to communicate with others and be a good example for them.

“We need to change focus on what’s going on inside us, which is the only thing we can really influence. Change will come naturally from this, and it makes sense irrespective of your belief system.”

Balan Pillay of Pietermaritzburg said: “The chance to reassess and self-reflect has been helpful because I realise I have lost patience and tolerance and feel angry about all the problems in the city and the world generally. That anger affects relationships and I realise that I cannot control what’s going wrong with the municipality, for example, but I can control my thoughts and anger. I can try to inculcate qualities like peace and love in my life and that way maybe contribute to combating the turmoil in the world.”

Mkhize said the workshop arose out of the work done in the arena of HIV and Aids by the Health Department, the uMgungundlovu District Municipality and religious workers.

The organisers plan to hold Sam meetings monthly, possibly moving to different venues. Sam is an initiative of the Health Department, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and various religious leaders.

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