Gur Milandou Mouanga is a student in our Master of Arts in Leadership Studies program who lives in Cape Town, South Africa. This project was conducted during his community site internship at Cape Town Refugee Centre, from October to December 2017.
Working with refugees and having constantly interacted with teen female refugees who are pregnant or have children, I came to an understanding that teenage pregnancy is one of the major impediments to life in a community. Being a teen mother is very challenging especially as a refugee.
Teen mothers may often feel disempowered because they are looked down and are subjected to many forms of rejection in their family and community. Violence and abuse are the most reported harm done to them. Perpetrators of those abuses pretend that the victims have betrayed the family's values or broken community standards, so they must be treated as such and subjugated to punishment.
Studies report that most of the teen mothers are rape victims and consequently develop various coping mechanisms, which tend to harm further by causing them to foster a sense of failure and worthlessness. Many of them fall into deep depression, engage in unlawful activities, or commit suicide.
The project has targeted specifically refugee teen mothers as beneficiaries and provided opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills, helping them build a career and a business-driven spirit, making it possible for them to be self-reliant and allowing them to sustain themselves. In a support group structure with psychological care-giving approaches, the project offered job skill training in cooking, beauty therapy, and hospitality.
Originally from Congo-Brazzaville, a Middle African country, Gur has been a resident of South Africa for almost two decades.
Gur is a trained, qualified, and professional journalist with a master’s degree in journalism and media studies. He has worked for many years in the field of communication as a journalist, media liaison officer, media consultant, market researcher, and marketing agent for various South African and international firms where he gained extensive experience in public relations and public speaking.
Gur’s interest in tourism and travel industry has led him to study at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa for a qualification in that field. He is an experienced and qualified South African tour guide who conducts tours in French and English. He is also a connoisseur and specialist in South African wines; he is the brand ambassador for Groot Constantia, the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa.
Gur dedicates his spare time for his community. Through decades of volunteer work, he has built strong leadership skills and advisory capacity, which he shares in his professional and life orientation training sessions on topics such as conflict resolution, non-violence communication, and mediation. He has also taught a course in leadership and community studies in the United States.
In 2016, Gur participated in the U/U Global Conference and visited Meadville Lombard along with four other international U/U leaders, from Burundi, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Transylvania. Gur is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Leadership Studies degree as a recipient of the Pointing the Way Scholarship.
Gur’s story gives insights into how the Unitarian Universalist movement is growing in Africa, as well as how it is helping to spread the principles of justice, equity, and compassion in his corner of the world.