This summer Arjun and I have been interning at the Men’s Dialogue, a component of the new Zimele Project, which is a comprehensive adolescent-focused intervention program of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. Designed to complement the Women of Worth program, the Men’s Dialogue seeks to engage young men in discussions around gender norms, masculinity, and stereotypes within their communities. It is an HIV education and intervention tool with five dialogue sessions scheduled per year, the first having already occurred on May 13th and the second planned for July 29th.
After spending much of the first weeks doing research and writing content for the program’s protocol and lesson plans, the last couple of weeks of our internship came as a satisfying conclusion to our work. Our supervisor Ndumiso surprised us by assigning us completely new tasks as we were preparing for the second session.
Arjun and I were asked to find sponsors and partnerships for the Men’s Dialogue. Given our limited budget and the potential benefit of a joint approach, we reached out to different NGOs around the Western Cape to ask if they would be willing to work together on these dialogue sessions. Sonke Gender Justice, an organization that works to promote healthy relationships and gender equality, was the first group to come aboard after we spontaneously showed up to their offices downtown without an appointment. And just last week I set up a meeting between Ndumiso and Grassroot Soccer South Africa, which uses soccer to empower youth to overcome their greatest health challenges and lead more productive lives. Apparently it went very well because in such a short period of time, it’s amazing that the our second session will be a collaborative project between all three organizations. Each of these organizations have distinct yet highly interconnected missions, and I am certain that their parallels will lead to a strong synergy between the three.
We also set up a Facebook page for the Men’s Dialogue. It was a fun and refreshing experience to design the page for our last week. Whereas Arjun mostly handled the pictures and posts, I primarily focused on creating our new logo. After eventually coming with 8 different ideas and receiving input from all around the Desmond Tutu office, we finally settled on the white logo in the top right corner.
So if you ever have some free time during your day, please check out and like our page at https://www.facebook.com/MensDialogue/.