Asisithi Mbewu, the 23 year old facilitator and trainer of Focus on the Family’s No Apologies programme, is passionate about the “abstinence works every time” message that has already reached 1,5 million learners in South Africa and beyond since 2002.
No Apologies is a character based life skills curriculum that offers the challenge: how do you want to manage your sex life in your youth and the decades to follow: it’s your call.
The NMMU Psychology Honours graduate was in East London this week to train a group of 25 social workers and auxiliaries and teachers as well as run the course in schools in Mdantsane.
“I firmly believe in this programme, so much so that I have my own purity ring as a sign of my commitment to abstinence. My pastor placed it on my hand and when I get married one day my husband will replace it with a wedding band. It will be my gift to him,” Asi told the workshop.
She travels the length and breadth of the country to teach how to use the No Apologies manual which has also been translated into French and Portuguese.
The two day training was held at Christelike Maatskaplike Raad in Southernwood.
The aim of the character building abstinence based programme is to teach the truth about life, love and sexuality by making young people think about the choices they make and the consequences of their actions.
Topics include: healthy relationships, media relationships, media literacy, premarital sex has consequences, HIV and Aids, abstinence works every time and marriage does matter. At the end of the programme young people have the opportunity to sign pledge cards if they decide to abstain from sex. There is also a condensed version of No Apologies for those who have less time available entitled Real Deal.
As part of the training, this dynamic young woman, who hails from Cofimvaba in Transkei but is currently based in Durban, shared some of her own moving story with the audience. She lost her father in 1998 and her mother 10 years later when she was 16 and in her matric year. However, it was only six months later that the reality of the loss of her mom hit her and she planned to kill herself. She shares some of the devastation she felt at the time.
The family pulled together and her older sister went to work in Johannesburg as a domestic helper to put Asi through university. Sometimes she existed on R150 a month. Now that she is working, she is helping to educate her younger sister. She also has an older brother plus a niece and nephew.
She describes herself as someone who, if there is a task to be done and no one else will do it, she will.
“It’s the way my mom taught me,” she says.
And you are left in no doubt that she will do it well. It’s this “can do” character trait that led to her getting saved a year after her mother passed away.
“My younger sister was saved and she used to go to prayer meetings every day so one day I went to watch. The pastor asked us to join them in the choir as someone was missing. If no-one will do something I step in, so I sang and ended up leading three songs.”
She started going to church regularly and when she went back to Port Elizabeth to study she became interested and started reading the Bible. One day she knelt down and gave her life to the Lord.
She is now a worship leader in her church.
This vibrant young woman has set several goals for her life and encouraged the audience to do the same. It was what she teaches the learners she interacts with as well.
She has already realized one of her goals: to set up an orphan related programme before she is 35.
“God answers prayers,” she smiles, “It opened exactly a year ago on 1 October 2013 when I was only 22.”
It’s called Tales of Hope and falls under the umbrella of Focus on the Family. It is for young people in child headed households just like she was.
She meets with the young people who are aged between 11 and 23 for an hour each week and gives motivational talks, liaises with other organizations that can give input and arranges career guidance and job shadowing.
Asi has other aspirations as well: to register for her Masters in Psychology by 2015, to mentor young people (she already has several under her wing) and publish her first book by the time she is 25.
“The book came to a halt in 2012 when our family home burnt down but I need to get going again,” she says. In the meantime she writes a blog about her life.
For further information about No Apologies, contact Focus on the Family on 031 – 716 3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Asi’s blog can be found at asinatty.wordpress.com