- “We are beginning this programme in Jamestown as we want to see more boys flourishing in slum areas to reduce juvenile delinquency, crime, sexual and gender-based violence and other social problems most perpetrated by boys/men,” she said.
Written By Charles Andoh - Founded on strong Godly teachings and Christian principles, one can only expect exceptional performance from the Junior Shapers Africa (JSA) as the torchbearers of society.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), JSA focuses on grooming and training young boys to become responsible fathers and father figures for the benefit of society, has been all about.
Established on September 21, 2015, the organisation has been growing in leaps and bounds.
The visioneer for this bold initiative is Mrs Ethel Adjorlolo Marfo, someone who describes herself as an advocate for boys’ development, who is also the Founding Director.
Mrs Marfo gave up her first love — marketing and public relations (PR) practice after many years of work, to address the silent struggles of young boys through JSA, arguably the only recognised group fighting for the rights of young boys and men in the country.
She said she believed if society had the right boys, they would grow up to complement the efforts of women and help fight all forms of discrimination against females.
“All that society has been focused on is to promote the rights of women ahead of men, while men also need to be protected. If you have the right boys, they grow to become responsible men who help fight discrimination against women.
“It is time we start changing that ideology because men also need protection. And if you do, everything would fall in place, and we would have a fair society. There would be less abuses against women,” she told The Mirror.
What JSA does
JSA brings together young boys between the ages of seven and 17 years and grooms them to become responsible fathers and citizens and help fight discrimination against women and children.
Apart from the leadership training and mentorship programmes they gain, the young boys are given practical training on skills development and entrepreneurship.
So far, it has impacted the lives of more than 6000 boys in Ghana, across Africa, Europe and Asia.
Some boys of the JSA displaying cards on what they have been taught
Mrs Marfo said she got the inspiration to form the group after a number of studies and observations were done to find out why many young boys grew up to become irresponsible men.
According to her, a lot of boys lacked responsible fathers and emotional support as they grew, and those tended to affect them in future, and the cycle went on, a development that translated into their relationships.
In Ghana, the JSA has been holding boot camps for young boys on vacations in different parts of the country.
However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a lot of the trainings are now done through virtual means, roping in African young boys from Liberia, Uganda, Thailand, United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).
“So far, we have had a lot of parents giving positive responses from within and outside the country about the training we are giving to their children,” she said.
Boys to Men Voyage
As part of its five-year anniversary celebration, the JSA has launched “Boys to Men Voyage” programme at Jamestown in Accra to adopt, cater and groom some selected boys in the area who will then become ambassadors for their community and the organisation.
The JSA will be supporting the young boys who will be adopted and be given scholarships through their education.
“We are beginning this programme in Jamestown as we want to see more boys flourishing in slum areas to reduce juvenile delinquency, crime, sexual and gender-based violence and other social problems most perpetrated by boys/men,” she said.
When asked how she got the coaches to groom the young boys, Mrs Marfo said most of them were those she had personally worked with and could vouch for their sense of integrity and urgency to help society address challenges young boys faced on a regular basis.
She emphasised that the grooming was meant to build young men with strong values and high moral standards and integrity.
Mrs Marfo said in the next five to 10 years, she would want to see a lot of men who were role models for the youth, as well as fathers who had take keen interest in the development of their children and those of others.
The major challenge for JSA has been finding the right kind of male mentors in society to guide young boys.
She added that there was little support from corporate institutions, saying that “a young boy you help today can grow to come and rescue your company from rot someday.”
Mrs Marfo also called on fathers to give the needed support to their young boys and not to prevent them from being groomed by the right organisations and individuals.
JSA has received a number of recognitions and awards from local and international bodies.
In 2017, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) recognised the JSA for Social Entrepreneurship and Activism for the Boy Child.
The Education Community (EDUCOM), an education advocate, also awarded the JSA for Value-added Education in 2018.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Cynthia Mamle Morrison, has also endorsed the activities of JSA.
As part of its fights for men, the JSA has sent a petition to the United Nations (UN) to recognise the International Men’s Day to be observed liked any of its important international days.