Standing up for fathers’ rights to access to their children, as well as opening dialogue between separated mothers and fathers, is just some of the things that Orrock Robertsen hoped to achieve with his 1,000km walk from Johannesburg to Ngqamakhwe, with a pitstop in East London.
Robertsen is estranged from his son’s mother, and has not seen him for almost two years.
“I cannot say I did much training prior to this walk, or even thought I might have gone this far. It has allowed me to grow physically and mentally,” he said.
The walk was also about him confronting his pain head-on.
He also hoped to open a dialogue with his son’s family in Ngqamakhwe, but this did not happen, despite him keeping them in the loop involved about his with his journey.
“I began posting my story on social media, more out of anguished expression than anything else. To my surprise, I started getting feedback from men around the country. The more I posted about my experience, the more men responded,” Robertsen said.
He also established an organisation, called Children Need Both Parents, as a platform for alienated fathers to engage and get support.
He believes that women are they to essential in changing this narrative and joining this cause, as some of the laws in place favour mothers.
“I would love for women to reach out for this cause as this phenomena is not just happening in our country, but across the world,” Robertsen said.
Originally from Barkley-East, Robertsen would like to approach the Constitutional Court to change some aspects of the Children’s Act to accommodate fathers who that would like to be present in their children’s lives.
“There should be some way for father’s to prove why a father does not have direct access to a child, and also magistrates that who will look into family law. A father should be able to spend time with their child regardless of their financial situation to create a bond,” he said.
He will soon embark on a cycle journey headed to New York to meet with Unicef so they may at least try to endorse the cause.
“Men play an important role in to help teaching the child about their identity, and mothers are more the nurturers. This trip might be overzealous, but we all need to be involved and create a safe space for all and create awareness,” he said.
To learn about the cause, visit the “Children Need Both Parents” Facebook page and join the public group.
Image: 03_GO_Orrock Robertsen
WALK THE TALK: Orrock Robertsen at the start of his 1000km walk, leaving Grasmere Plaza in Gauteng, with a 60kg backpack headed to Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED