Sharing his story of growing up with an absent father changed the course of Charley Pietersen’s life.
In 2015, Pietersen launched his autobiography, ‘Growing up without a father’.
“After the launch, I would visit schools to tell young boys that they can become responsible human beings even in the absence of their fathers. I shared my life story with them through the book and inspirational talks,” he said.
His talks were so inspiring that Pietersen was encouraged to start an organisation to enable him to reach more youngsters, and so the Growing Up Without a Father Foundation was born.
He co-registered the organisation in 2016 with his wife Brenda Pietersen and it has already reached thousands of young boys and men through various platforms, including seminars and workshops in different provinces. One of the foundation’s main aims is to raise awareness of the impact that absent fathers have on society.
He said everyone involved in the organisation’s work is a volunteer, many of whom grew up fatherless.
The organisation also pays scheduled visits to prisons to try and change the mindset of convicts with regard to women and girls.
Having worked in the soccer fraternity as the Chief Executive Officer of Bloemfontein Celtic FC, Pietersen gives male role models, such as soccer players, a platform to speak out about the responsibilities of men in society.
It is important for men to realise that young boys look up to them and copy how they treat girls and women, he stressed.
“I focus mainly on young boys because they feel neglected. For many years, we focused on the wellbeing of girls and it is time we also show our boys love and attention. It is important to tell a boy that his life matters,” he says.
He added that a lot of boys and men live with depression and are suicidal because they do not know how to express their emotions. Some of them resort to violence as a way of dealing with their emotions. This is because society has taught them not to cry, and it is dangerous because most social ills stem from that ideology,” he added.
Pietersen believes that every man was born good and that behaviour is learned. He said lack of guidance is what leads to boys and men becoming a danger to society