Our Organization Provides Young Men a Home.
With a deep belief in the transforming power of God. Beth Uriel. “House of Light”, aims to provide young men from impoverished communities the chance to pursue meaningful, independent lives through a supportive living environment, connections to educational opportunities, positive social alternatives and life skill training. Beth Uriel Boys Home provides young men between the ages of 18 and 24 with a safe environment to further their lives toward independent living. Statistics show that youth (age 18 to 35) make up over half of the population in the Western Cape. Faced with enormous challenges around unemployment, low matric pass rates and family dysfunction, young men throughout the Cape are provided with very few opportunities that cultivate hope or any real sense of purpose. Our facility aims to address abovementioned issues by “raising young men to look up to”.
Beth Uriel is a Christian home and we believe that only God can make a lasting difference in these young men’s lives. Besides all the programs the home offers to the residents, we also offer pastoral care, church and bible study through which we hope to speak to these young men about faith and let God transform their lives.
The residential program offers accommodation to 26 individuals and agrees to provide them with basic residential care, such as three meals a day, a bed, personal hygiene, opportunities to exercise and a safe environment to study. In an attempt to prepare these young men for independent living, Beth Uriel also agrees to re(integrate) the residents in school and provide them with academic support (tutoring, homeschooling, etc.), engage in positive social alternatives including weekend and holiday programs, encourage job readiness through life skills and part-time job experience, and to explore identity issues through peer support, group work and counselling.
Accommodation to the disadvantaged young men.
Beth Uriel Boys Home has a maximum capacity of 26 and offers accommodation to young men (between the age of 18 and 24) from previously disadvantaged circumstances. The goal here is to provide these young men with a safe environment to further their lives. Most of the residents come from difficult backgrounds such as, foreign refugees, gang-related issues, family dysfunction or children’s homes. It is either their family or their social worker that reaches out to Beth Uriel to help them escape these circumstances and go (back) to school.
The home is divided in multiple bedrooms. Newcomers will first get a bed in the “big room” where about 10-14 boys are sleeping. One of the things the home tries to achieve is teaching the young men the value of looking after your own living space and hygiene. When someone shows these values he will get the opportunity to move into one of the smaller rooms with 2 or 3 people. This way an individual’s behaviors’ and personal hygiene gets rewarded by “promoting” them to a smaller room.
The home is self-catering which means that all meals are made in the home’s kitchen by the
boys themselves. Cooking is also one of the life skills Beth Uriel attempts to teach the young men (see Life skills). The home provides everyone with three meals a day, seven days a week.
All 26 young men are part of one big family here at Beth Uriel. In the home, every individual is referred to as a family member. Boys who have stayed at the home for a bit longer are big brothers to those who just come in. Therefore it is also their responsibility to look after them and help them whereas it is the little brother’s duty to listen to and respect the older boys in the house.
(Re)integration into school and academic support is one of the primary concerns of Beth Uriel. The home is there to provide the boys with an environment that is safe for them to study and encourages all of them to (re)enter schools, depending on whether they have stayed out of school at one point for a period of time or are in school already. Since the home accommodates young men from different ages, there are students who are still in high school and also college students. One of the primary goals in education is for all these young men to get their matric certificate.
To achieve these educational goals the home offers all family members the tools and help they need. First of all Beth Uriel provides all students with stationery and a study environment (study room). Every evening at 7 all family members have to be in the study room to study for 1-2 hours. For those who need to do work on a computer or need to use the internet for school projects, there is a computer room with three computers. Older boys in the house are encouraged to help out their little brothers with studying if they struggle with certain subjects. Furthermore, there is a tutoring program which started in 2019, to help the boys with their education but also with other problems. Another tutoring program is that with an international school where American students come to tutor the boys for a couple of weeks.
For those who cannot, for any reason, (re)integrate into school, we offer a home-schooling program called “school-in-a-box”. This program works online and gives students the opportunity to teach themselves the needed subjects to go for a nationally approved exam, with help from tutors. This program is also being used for those who wish to go back to school but who have missed the entry-date (college) and hereby can still educate themselves in the meantime.
Life skill and job readiness
Another pillar for preparation for independent living are life skills. First of all the program seeks to sort out the young men’s paperwork (ID-papers, birth certificate, passport) since in most cases these papers either do not exist or have been lost somewhere in time. Beth Uriel also helps the young men with setting up a bank account, creating a CV to find a job and getting their learners and drivers license. Beth Uriel provides the boys with all necessary life skills that prepare you to make a working living. The young men themselves can identify their primary goals and needs in the Independent Development Plan (IDP). These are conversations conducted by volunteers or staff with the boys to identify their problems, goals and needs.
More basic life skills come in the form of duties, savings and cooking. Every person in the home has a certain cleaning duty to perform on a daily basis. Hereby they are taught to look after their living space (their home) and personal hygiene, something they will need to do when they are independent. Another life skill is that of saving money. Beth Uriel has made it an unwritten rule for its residents to put aside 25% of their income (when they are working part- time) in savings. Through this they learn how to budget and manage their money and to put money aside for emergencies. As has been mentioned under Accommodation, the young men cook their own food in teams of three. The purpose is to teach them to make food for themselves when they move out of the home.
The program offers the boys an opportunity to develop themselves in leadership skills. In the house there are 7 leaders, called Youth Care Workers (YCW), who are the supervisors/leaders of the house when there is no management around. These YCW are required to write reports on the movement of the residents, their behaviour and possible problems. They make sure the rules of the house are being complied with. The YCW are selected on the basis of their character and sense of responsibility. The skills they learn as YCW will benefit them in the future.
Not all the boys in the home have relatives (in the vicinity). But for those who do have relatives, the final part of growing these young men into independence is to try and (re)connect them with their family (if they have been out of touch or separated for some reason). For boys who do have family in Cape Town it is allowed to visit them once a month on their weekend sign-out.
One of the goals of the IDP is to identify what family members the boys have so that we can create a bond between them and also stay in contact as an organisation with their family members. This is to make sure that after leaving the house, when the boys are deemed ready to be independent from the home’s support, they will have a relationship with their family and will not be all by themselves. Ofcourse they will also always stay part of the Beth Uriel family, even after leaving the program.
Another important role family plays is that in tribal cultural responsibilities. Some of the boys in the house come from tribal backgrounds and need to stay connected with their families in order to become a man. With respect to these cultural responsibilities, Beth Uriel invests in staying connected with each of the boys’ backgrounds and families.
During the school holidays most of these young men stay at the home since in most cases they do not have a home or family to go to for the holidays. Some others will take the opportunity to “sign out” for the school holidays and spend it with their family or friends. Every family member gets an opportunity to sign out for one weekend a month.
For those who remain at the home during the school holidays (either outside or during the academic year) Beth Uriel arranges activities on and off the property. One yearly occasion is the Beth Uriel camp. Almost all young men will always stay at the home until after the camp so they can still join. During the camp there will be sports activities but also a lot of social interaction and one on one talks between the young men and staff or volunteers. The camp is always a great opportunity to talk about issues in a more relaxed setting. But firstly the camp is there to give these young men a holiday like all families go on holidays.
Most other activities during the year are being arranged by volunteers. During summer the boys will go surfing at Muizenberg every Friday. Other activities are swimming and soccer. It is mandatory for the boys to exercise during the week (either soccer or running). These exercises are being led by some of the boys themselves. Physical health is important and that is why sports play such a big role at Beth Uriel.