In honour of Prince Harry’s birthday, The Justice Desk (TJD), the South African human rights non-profit organisation, is raising funds for their Ntsika yeThemba Project, which aims to end gender-based violence. The fundraiser not only highlights the importance of challenging toxic masculinity but also creates a platform for mental health awareness and accessibility.
Prince Harry has been an important part of The Justice Desk’s history and growth. In 2016, TJD’s CEO and founder Jessica Dewhurst received The Queens Young Leader award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace. The award recognised various incredible young leaders from across the Commonwealth who were making a substantial difference in their communities. It was at this event that Jess and Prince Harry first touched base, sharing a love and passion for South Africa and the fight against gender-based violence.
The Justice Desk works across South Central Africa, empowering local people to understand and defend their human rights, in order to build safe and just communities for all! Through 6 flagship projects, they have impacted the lives of over 1.4 million people in just 8 short years. They are determined to make their mission a reality, where ordinary, “everyday” people are empowered enough to understand and defend their Human Rights, so that they can transform society in a sustainable way and create a more just and equal world.
In 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, visited The Justice Desk as part of their Royal Visit to South Africa. They spent time at TJD’s “Mbokodo Club” (The Rock Club) project that focuses on offering leadership and empowerment workshops, mental health care and trauma counselling, as well as self-defence and fitness classes to girl survivors of rape and GBV from vulnerable communities. After spending time with the girls, Harry spoke out about the role that men also must play in ending gender-based violence. “It’s about redefining masculinity, it’s about creating your own footprints for your children to follow in so that you can make a positive change for the future.” These words were particularly encouraging as they strengthened the broader work of The Justice Desk in the path of raising everyday activists who challenge injustice and shift the narrative of crime and impunity towards that of empowerment and justice. During their visit, The Justice Desk gifted Harry and Meghan a "Be a Voice for Justice" Hoodie for baby Archie, which included granting him the traditional isiXhosa name, "Ntsika", meaning "pillar of hope".
“We are so incredibly grateful to be able to listen and learn from you about the issues that define your daily lives in these communities. And that’s what this is, a community. As someone who has visited this amazing country many times, and as someone who regards Cape Town as a uniquely special place in Africa, I wanted to ensure that our first visit as a family focused on the significant challenges facing millions of South Africans while acknowledging the hope that we feel so strongly here.”
Ntsika yeThemba is Born
One year later in 2020, The Ntsika yeThemba Project was born, which aims to end Gender-Based Violence by equipping a generation of positive male role-models, who challenge toxic masculinity and GBV, as well as promote equal rights and justice for all! Through various positive role model encounters and mentorship initiatives, as well as through the use of outdoor adventure-based education; young boys from vulnerable communities, many without fathers or father-figures, are being empowered to become incredible leaders and agents of change.
“Our Ntsika boys are reshaping, re-defining and re-building positive ideas and actions of masculinity. They are being taught how to respect one another, respect women, understand consent and be a part of building a free and equal country for all!” said Jess Dewhurst.
One of the boys in their project said; “Before I couldn’t see GBV in my community, I couldn’t actually see the abuse because it was so normal. But now I know what it is and I will not let it happen!”. The Justice Desk is shifting mindsets and encouraging boys and men to realize that they need to be part of the change – in their everyday actions.
A vital component of the Ntsika Project, andsomething that Prince Harry is a strong advocate for, is mental health and well-being; where the boys are supported and encouraged to access trauma counselling, as well as learn how to care for and prioritise their mental health.
TJD’s Operations Officer Kayla Brittan stated that “when Harry spoke to us about mental health and its importance, that had so much influence, especially for our Ntsika boys! Our boys have told us that they were taught that mental health and counselling was something to be feared. Whereas now, after spending time in counselling, it's their favourite part of every single session! However, the sheer amount of children still needing counselling is overwhelming, and so our goal is to build up more resources and support to make mental health care more accessible to more children.”
Harry for Hope Fundraiser
In celebration of Prince Harry’s upcoming birthday, The Justice Desk’s ‘Harry for Hope’ fundraiser wants to honour Harry by raising vital funds to be used in the fight for proper access to mental health care, as well as for equipping a generation of young boys eager to end gender-based violence in their lifetime.
TJD’s CEO Jessica Dewhurst stated “Harry has always been and continues to be such an incredible supporter of the work of The Justice Desk, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate his birthday than by making it possible to impact even more lives in his name! Our whole TJD family wishes you the most incredible birthday Prince Harry - I cannot thank you enough for all your love and kindness”.
On the 15th of September, join The Justice Desk and support The Harry for Hope initiative by making a donation. You can go to: https://www.givengain.com/cc/harryforhope/