One man can provide care: Small steps to success

A success story from the MenCare program.Parents and children at MenCare South Africa's parent's day

Although many of the activities that will ultimately make up the MenCare program are still in their infancy, one story from the MenCare Southern Africa program has stood out for us as an inspiring example of what it can achieve.

A recent focus group discussion for the program included participants from a community mobilization event conducted the day before. The day was promoted as a ‘Parent’s day’ and the theme of the day was responsible and gender equal parenthood. The focus was especially on fathers increasing their participation in childcare work. Several of the MenCare team members presented to the group at the event, and encouraged audience members to support gender equal parenting.

One expectant father, Marcus*, attended the parenting day and then participated in our needs assessment. Marcus’s girlfriend lives in a separate household from him, and they are expecting their second child, to be born in January 2013.

When asked ‘How do you define the role of a father?’ Marcus grinned and replied:

“If you had asked me two days ago my response would have been different. I now see a father as someone that can provide love as well as money. Previously I thought that I must only give money. But at the event I heard one of the presenters talk about the relationship between a father and a child, and it showed me that I can give more than money. I can show love by helping with the work.”

He went on to explain that this has encouraged him to approach his girlfriend and to offer her some of his time and support in the child care work.

After participating in the needs assessment, Marcus expressed interest in joining the expectant fathers’ group that meets at the One Man Can wellness centre. He is now the newest member of the group.

This small anecdote hints at the great impact that the MenCare project can have on fathers. We look forward to rolling out the programme in full and to the results of the impact evaluation which should be available at the end of this phase of the programme in 2014.

* Not his real name.