This is not a fairy tale story

This is not a fairy tale story

This is a REAL MAN story.

He’s all shy. His black Polo is parked nearby; he’s just come from his new job as a land surveyor. Only when he’s pressed will he admit that he put his cousin through accounting (she now works at KPMG) and his sister through two years of UCT.

Meet Shaun Sijeqe

Shaun PP

This REAL MAN is so humble and God-honouring in his success, and I’m so glad that I had met his family ten years ago. It’s not an everyday family – it’s made up of 25 young men (some teens, some in their 20s), a 30-something ‘mom’ they all call Magogo, a ‘dad’ they call Pa and an administrator who is Sisi to all.

I met the Beth Uriel family 10 years ago (and volunteered for five) and it’s been amazing to see how the young men in this family have grown into REAL MEN…. True gentlemen.

Beth Uriel is a youth project, and family home in Salt River, Cape Town for young men between the ages of 17 and 24. Most of the guys stay in the family for a few years and leave only when they’re ready to work and support themselves – like most families. It’s not only with one short programme, but with years of family-orientated-firm-handed-God-fearing-wholehearted L-O-V-E (love). When asked of the impact, the best conclusion we could come to is that Beth Uriel has been raising REAL MEN for 28 years. Many are successful but – more importantly – most show character and Godly values that are changing their families, communities and city.

A REAL MAN is memorable

A REAL MAN is so much more than success and being able to provide. What are my REAL MAN moments at Beth Uriel? Seeing Maninho and Masakhane perform for township crowds as hip hop group Young Soldier (with brave lyrics speaking to tough issues). Hearing that Arthemon was now pursuing his PhD in Medical Bioscience in Johannesburg.

Destino PP (1)

Wilson PP







Destino (pictured above, left) was launching an UNNC (a political and and social impact group) to tutor and offer bursaries to Congolese Matriculants in South Africa. Seeing Wilson (pictured above, right) beaming as he reports that he, at 23, has Matriculated and is now studying HR. Meeting Masixole, a press photographer at a women’s rights rally. And knowing Willie prepared my meal at the gourmet restaurant at The Grand Daddy.

A REAL MAN isn’t perfect

A REAL MAN isn’t perfect. Instead, he takes responsibility for his mistakes. Here’s how I know: I wasn’t always sure that Amos and Sofire, two Beth Uriel family members I knew best, would make it. Amos left the house suddenly years ago and we lost all contact with him. Sofire, a few years ago, after he became a youth care worker at the house and was studying law, went back to old ways and reoffended; he was arrested and sentenced to eight years in jail.

For both these men, thankfully, their stories do not end there! Just recently I found out that Amos now lives in Johannesburg with his wife and two children, and he’s the pastor of a church! And while Sofire was serving his time, God called him closer and showed him his calling in Gumboots dance. Sofire now thrives as he teaches dance to teens and children in Langa through Project Playground. It’s clear he is their hero and a REAL MAN to them. A REAL MAN goes the distance and the character infused by Beth Uriel comes out in the end.

A REAL MAN is a family man

What I love and respect most about the Beth Uriel family members who become REAL MEN is that they give back to their family.

Coby fb picCoby (pictured left), for example, is not only training to get his full license as a Commercial Diver, but faithfully runs the Beth Uriel Beach Umbrella Business at Camps Bay every summer. Then there is Mfundo, who runs his own skills company, has a degree in Sports Management and works as a Family and Community Integration Worker for Beth Uriel (where he assists in linking the family members of Beth Uriel back to their biological families).

It’s encouraging to see Beth Uriel ex-family members begin families of their own and being involved fathers and being committed husbands despite all the challenges they face.

Overall Beth Uriel has shown me that raising a young man is so much more than simply educating him and ensuring he takes the right course. It’s more than offering discipline and Godly wisdom and keeping a teen out of trouble. It’s developing a person with heart, who isn’t afraid to be set apart from the crowd, who makes choices out of his own conviction. Now that’s a REAL MAN and every bit what Beth Uriel’s about.


Join the REAL MAN revolution

Beth Uriel is running an online campaign to celebrate the REAL MEN in our midst – whether it’s your husband, best friend, boss or brother. By recognizing these men, it helps us, as a society, to remember what a real hero looks like.

Celebrating, honouring and recognising a REAL MAN is as easy as one, two, three:

  1. Think of one or two or a handful of men you would like to recognise: Post a photo of them on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. Caption the photo with: ‘I recognise (your friend/husband/father etc) as a REAL MAN because he… <insert reasons you feel he stands out as a REAL MAN>.
  2. Challenge two, three or more Facebook friends to follow your example and do it too.
  3. Add in #REALMAN. Now, tweet, Like, share and comment. (A selection of pics and stories will be posted on the website.)




This post was written by
Claire is married to REAL MAN Merrick. She's a freelance copywriter who loves to get involved in crafting branding and media for NGO's. She's also a qualified life coach with a passion for careers, so Beth Uriel and NETwork are places she loves to volunteer. She is a member of the Common Ground Wynberg Congregation.

1 Comment on "This is not a fairy tale story"

  • Barry says

    Great article Claire!!! Inspired me to think how I am reflecting God’s character and values.

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