Platform for change

2018-06-05 06:01
Life Changers Foundation aims to turn the tide for individuals who feel they have been discarded by society.

Life Changers Foundation aims to turn the tide for individuals who feel they have been discarded by society.

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After going through a rough patch in his life, Brandon Eckardt decided to turn his life around. But for him that was not enough, so he decided that in order to fulfil his desired purpose, he would help other people to change their lives.

“In church I realised that we can’t stand in church being happy for what God is doing in your life and then I have friends who are caught up in drugs, gang members, in prison. I felt that a lot of kids in the area were moving that way also.

“I figured that I need to approach a few people and spoke to four of my friends. We were five guys in the beginning in 2005 in the same church,” says Eckardt. This is how his organisation, Life Changers Foundation, was founded.

“We were struggling with our identities at the time. I then approached the pastor and we started the group. We started in a backyard shack in Lavender Hill. There were five people at that meeting and the guy who owned the house, he was a drunk and chased us out, but at the end of the day he was the one who came to us and asked if he could change his life,” he adds.

He says they facilitated around 120 people in the first year of operation, but the demand became too high as word got around and he found that he had to send those needing help to other organisations in the area.

Eckardt then decided to enlist the help of professionals in the sphere of self-improvement – psychologists, councillors and occupational therapists.

“In 2010 we started getting involved with the core systems. We started the diversion programme and have a good relationship with Wynberg Court.

“If the crime is minor enough, instead of sending a child to Pollsmoor for seven days to review their matter, they send the child to us for three weeks and look at it, see if they participated in our programme well, and we then go back and write a report for him to take to the court. So he’ll end up giving up a few hundred hours of his time instead of developing a criminal record,” explains Eckardt.

He says Life Changers Foundation has a high success rate, with none of its clients who entered their programme via the courts between April 2015 and April 2016 returning to the justice system.

“We are big on life skills programmes. I do leadership and articulation. I teach them basic leadership stuff like being on time, how to dress for a meeting, how to speak and conduct one’s self at a place where you come to better yourself.

“People look at us as a drug rehabilitation centre, but we are not, because we do not focus on your addiction. We do have counsellors who attend to that on Thursdays. What we try to do is that we build a platform for guys to be able to grow. We coach and find out what the person’s gift is,” he says.V Continued on page 2.

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