There was an electrifying and ecstatic atmosphere at the recently held Phola graduation ceremony in South Africa. The exuberance exhibited by the graduating young people was beyond measure. The event took place on 5 March at Cosmo City Church premises in Johannesburg North. The fifty youths recently completed their COURRAGE SESSIONS.

 The COURRAGE Methodology is a collective narrative way of working, developed to privilege the alternative stories of youth who have faced significant hardships. It seeks to honour the strengths, skills, and courage that youth show and use in the face of sorrow and grief.

Although COURRAGE was primarily developed by women for women, it is a narrative therapy intervention adaptable to respond broadly to youth’s experiences of trauma and other hardships.

Working with youth the methodology focusses on tackling issues that affect young people including HIV/AIDS, drug and substance abuse, unemployment, teen pregnancy, life skills development and emotional loss.

There is a strong emphasis on preventing the onset of life challenges often experiences by the youth. It sets to equip them with skills that include decision making, goal setting, problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Youth are helped to learn coping skills and to become resilient when faced with adversity.

The Phola Director introduced the Guest Speaker Shadi Nyokong to the audience at Phola Youth Graduation Event. Coincidentally the Director of Phola once worked at Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund for more than five years as a Senior Programmes Manager.

 Shadi spoke on the legacy of Madiba and values of UBUNTU. She highlighted mental health issues and increasing suicide cases among men.

The Guest Speaker encouraged the youth not to be the best or worst of others, but to make the effort to be the best of themselves. She further implored to men battling mental health and emotional stress to come forward and seek help. In her closing remarks she thanked Phola for providing psychosocial support and counselling services to youth, men, and women from different walks of life.

 In her speech the Director thanked the Guest Speaker and other stakeholders who graced the event, among them were SHM Foundation. In her report she also shared organization’s vision, programmes, challenges and opportunities and the way forward.

 She concluded by encouraging Phola ‘s staff to continue good work and to be always exemplary.

The event coincided with an international team from Spain who were in the country to shoot a documentary on the milestones of Phola Director Ncazelo Mlilo. She is one of the four women in the world recognized as movers, shakers and change makers for the year 2021. Phola had the honour to host Miguel A. San Joaquin the founder and CEO of Polo Stories a Spanish based film company. It is a global nonprofit film production platform dedicated to amplifying transformative stories about inspiring women.

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