One woman's quest to groom boys into responsible men

Ethel Marfo, founder of Tod-Teen Republic an NGO, is on a rare mission to groom boys into responsible men. She speaks to Betty Kankam-Boadu about her story and her quest so far.

 

Empowering young boys to respect women and to become better men drives Ethel Marfo, founder of Tod Teen Republic and Junior Boys Mentorship Clinic.

With a background in public relations Marfo has worked in successful corporate organisations in Ghana, but what encouraged her to pursue her passion was when she started her kids salon, initially just a side job.

The salon was mainly for girls but Marfo realised their little brothers who came along with them had  “a deficit in their character as boys and that made me worry.”

That worry is what gave birth to Junior Boys Mentorship Clinic (JBMC) where boys between the ages of six and fifteen are groomed by responsible men so they can be better people in the future.

Marfo said her focus on boys was mainly because there are a lot of interventions for girls but very little for their boy counterparts.

Through social media Marfo reaches out to parents who desire to have their boys grow into empowered men who value and respect women.

She begun posting Facebook ads and used her Facebook wall to promote her initiative. She then contacted men who are achievers in society to get on board as mentors to help with the mentorship.

“Nothing comes easy especially when it is a new idea,” Marfo says heaving a sigh of relief, “initially when I brought the idea people were wondering what it really was about. It was really hard getting people to understand.”

She says he had to answer several questions from people who were interested but had many questions.

“I had to be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” she says. “I am really patient to see this project grow, so far so good parents are accepting it.

At a typical JBMC clinic boys get to interact with men who in very simple terms breakdown and share their experiences.

There is an opening session where they are engaged on best attitudes. They then break into smaller groups to have a one-on-one interaction with their mentors. This is to promote effective engagement.

Parents also get to interact with relationship coaches as well as share experiences on how to raise their kids.

The main challenge for  Marfo is getting parents who would want to get their young boys involved to pay a token.

“The challenge with some Ghanaian parents is why they have to pay for their children to gain extra knowledge,” Marfo says.

She admits that it is impossible to do the clinics for free now.  She hopes to get more support from corporate Ghana so the clinics will be free for all boys in the near future.

"The goal is to produce more responsible men, make sure that boys become more accepting of girls and supportive of girls and also to grow more responsible fathers." This is the future Marfo sees with the Junior Boys Mentorship Clinic initiative under her Tod-Teen Republic NGO.

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