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Charley Pietersen: Growing up fatherless became an inspiration to serve

LONDON — Last month Charley Pietersen sent me some information about an unusual initiative he was promoting. So I asked him to tell us more about it – and the result is the moving article below which he penned. Even though his father lived in the next door town in the rural Free State, the young Charley never met him. He has decided to channel that anger and pain into a positive outcome – and help those going through a similar predicament. His Growing Up Without A Father Foundation is making a difference to many lives. And is fulfilling one of the greatest lessons of life – using our own experiences to serve others. – Alec Hogg

By Charley Pietersen*

Broken people breed broken families and broken families breed broken communities that breed broken nations. – Tumi Frazier

Growing up without a father was not easy. I know my mother put all her efforts into being both a mother and a father for me and my brother. I am very grateful to her. But it was never enough to fill the void left by my father’s absence. Some guidance and life lessons can only be provided by a father. I have missed a father’s perspective on a lot of things in my life.

Charley Pietersen surrounded by school kids.

I understand the hearts of children growing up without a father or even both parents, and it encourages me to reach out to them, to hold their hands and tell them that everything is okay and they are going to make it. I can relate to them on every level, because up to this day, I could not and have not ever received the love and guidance from my father.

I have made it without using alcohol or drugs and have never been to prison, which research tells us often happens to children growing up without fathers. But there are a lot of children that do not know how to cope with this burden. I believe it is our duty to help them, to make this world a better place for all our children.

Although my father lived in Bethulie, only 60 kilometers from my home town of Smithfield, he made no effort to meet me. So when I was 21 years old I went in search of him.

It was not easy for me to look for someone I did not even have a picture of. But I needed some closure. I believe that if those of us who have grown up without fathers (or any parent) have been blessed to make it in life, we can be an inspiration to all children who feel that they are not wanted.

‘There is hope in hopeless situations?’ you may ask. I believe so because we are children of a living God. God is not dead. He hears, sees and understands us. He knows our thoughts from afar. He knows the content of our hearts. He knows every word before it comes out of our mouths. He knows the desires of our hearts.

I grew up a bitter and angry child who couldn’t understand why other children had both parents but not me. But I have learned to move on and to forgive my father.

I told myself that I have to do something to break this cycle of ‘fatherlessness’ to prevent it not to happen to my children and their generation. A lot of children who grew up without fathers are trying to hide between their anger and pain by saying that “I am okay”.

‘Fatherlessness’ affects millions of children in South Africa and around the World. Millions of children live in homes without the physical presence of fathers, and other living with present absent fathers.

I decided to do something about this so started the Growing Up Without A Father Foundation.  the purpose of the Foundation is  to engage  men and woman ,families and communities; about  taking responsibility for their actions and  not  to sit in a corner and blame the past generations.

We need to educate and create an awareness about Fatherlessness and the consequences of it. We need families, communities, governments and churches to work together to stop this. It’s not about bashing the absent fathers. Blame and guilt don’t fix anything. It’s about breaking the cycle.

You are not a mistake, you are born with a purpose, go find your purpose and the reason why you are here.

I can, you can and together we can change the culture for today’s children and their children of coming generations .- Dr David Molapo

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