The Joy of Mentoring
I believe that it is everyone’s desire to make a difference in this world in their own way. I also believe that it is natural to want to see the fruits of our labor or service.
Personally, the way that I make a difference is through mentoring.
I love seeing the transformation of the mentee and how I, as their mentor, am facilitating a change in their lives. Another thing that I love the most about being a Kisa Mentor with AfricAid is that I am always learning something new… how can I more effectively meet the needs of the young women in our program and improve in my role?
Currently, I mentor 200 girls from five different AfricAid Partner Schools. 63 of them have already graduated, but we still stay in touch. The relationship I have with my mentees is very strong and productive. It’s fabulous due to the fact that I love them and always create a warm environment for all of them.
I also enjoy communicating with my mentees through letters. It feels so good to receive letters from them and write them back. Other Mentors in our organization have expressed that they too love getting letters from their Scholars and reading about the impact they have made as role models to these girls during a formative period in their lives.
“I do not know how miserable my life would be if I did not have a Mentor. I am strong, resilient, ambitious, and courageous because she believed in me when nobody else did,” said Elizabeth, a Binti Shupavu Scholar.
‘’I never had a mentor in my life before joining Kisa. I never thought I could be a good leader for myself and the community at large. Kisa, with a lot of support from my Mentor, made me realize that I am a leader and I can be part of the changes I want to see in my community. I am happy that I can now share the knowledge I have with other girls in my community,’’ explained Faraja, a Kisa Scholar.
Young girls want to be heard, cared for, and most of all to be loved. This provides the foundation for how we Mentors communicate with Scholars in our Kisa Project and Binti Shupavu programs. Furthermore, the information that we provide to them through the life skills lessons teaches them how to be resilient and to build their capacity for leadership.
My office mate Agnes Akyoo, a fellow Binti Shupavu Mentor with 240 mentees, also believes that the Curriculum gives the Scholars an avenue to learn and open up. “Mentoring is amazing. I love mentoring. Through mentoring, I learn and share a lot, especially during certain lessons that give us the opportunity to share our own life experiences. My desire is to see young girls transform their lives and their communities by being resilient and capable of solving different challenges.”
As a Mentor, one of the main challenges I face is Scholars not being ready to open up and share their life stories, as well as the obstacles they face. Mentorship is not a common word or concept within most Tanzanian communities. Therefore, it takes time for mentees and their parents to understand the meaning and importance of having a mentor in their life. It takes time to earn their trust, yet I keep working hard to make sure that they all get a clear idea of the advantages of having me as their Mentor.
Some of my best moments as a Mentor so far have been when my mentees share their deepest problems, concerning family and personal issues because earning their trust has not been easy. I know how hard it can be to open up to someone new and it brings me joy when they do so with me. It lets me know that they trust me and know that I am a safe person to tell their secrets to. Eventually, when they are entirely comfortable, we sometimes joke around, make up stories, and play games too. The moments we share together having fun are golden moments that I share with my mentees.
Everyone deserves to have a mentor in his or her life. Mentorship brings greater meaning to life and makes the world a better place – for both the mentor and the mentee. It really is a mutually beneficial relationship.
My colleague Esther, another Binti Shupavu Mentor with 192 mentees, is also passionate and adamant about each person having a mentor in their lives to be successful and have an enjoyable life. “Being a light in someone’s life and sharing knowledge is what I love to do!”
AfricAid mentors secondary school girls in Tanzania to complete their education, develop into confident leaders, and transform their own lives and their communities. We equip girls to overcome challenges and reach their full potential because educated girls create lasting positive change. The outcome is proactive, resilient, and socially-responsible girls who secure better jobs, raise healthier families and increase the standing of women in society.
Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative (GLAMI) is AfricAid’s program implementation partner in Tanzania.