Boys graduate from life skills programme

Ten boys from Portland High School graduated on Wednesday September 29 from the anti-gender-based violence and life skills training programme with the Blaqpearl Foundation.

Ten boys who attend Portland High School graduated from a programme that taught them essential life skills and advocated against gender-based violence.

The Grade 9 pupils completed the programme over four weeks during which they learned, among others, the role they play in stopping abuse.

The boys graduated from the programme, run by the Blaqpearl Foundation, on Wednesday September 29 at Portland High School.

Foundation founder Janine Overmeyer said she had already seen a change in the behaviour of the boys.

Janine Overmeyer from the Blaqpearl Foundation performed one of her poems for the boys.

“On day one they were shy but in the final days they were confident in themselves and how they presented themselves. They are also aware and reflecting on themselves and the issues affecting them,” she said.

Being in a group makes the boys able to relate to someone and share in the experiences with changed behaviour, said Ms Overmeyer.

Portland High School’s principal Ridwaan Williams said he had reached out to many organisations and most of them had programmes for girls only. “We really needed something for the boys. The Blaqpearl Foundation didn’t hesitate to help us with a programme for them,” he said.

“The boys are neglected when it comes to development (and) there are very few programmes made available for them. We want to continue to develop them into men and have them realise their potential early on,” said Mr Williams.

And to the boys, he said: “You’ve learned things people may not know and it is now your responsibility to share this information to others.”

Graduate pupil Ethan Claassen, 14, said the programme had helped him overcome his fears.

Janine Overmeyer, principal Ridwaan Williams, pupil Ethan Claassen and from the Blaqpearl Foundation, Shane Overmeyer at the graduation ceremony.

“It was so exciting. I can now speak in front of people. I know it may not be huge, but it’s a small step to becoming a better person in society. I learned a lot about myself, I’ve learnt not to live in hate and to accept things for what they are,” said Ethan.

Abdul-Ansar Abrahams, 15, said his favourite part of the programme was speaking about communication and how to deal with conflict.

Janine Overmeyer, principal Ridwaan Williams, pupil Abdul-Ansar Abrahams and from the Blaqpearl Foundation, Shane Overmeyer at the graduation ceremony.

“I have experienced bullying in my life. I can now use what I have learnt in the programme in my world to deal with bullying and stand up to them,” he said.

The decision-making module of the programme also helped him, said Abdul-Ansar, who added that it had been fun and well-planned.

“When we started the programme our group was acquainted with one another. At the end of this programme we have become a brotherhood. I appreciate this,” he said.

The boys will continue to have a support group, and continue their “boys club” at school for others who wish to join, said Mr Williams.

For more information contact the Blaqpearl Foundation at 062 206 1310 or email them at