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Monday, November 09, 2009

Be a mentor!

How many times have each one of us thought we wish we had someone to walk with us, help us negotiate this complex world! Well, the Dream Mentoring Programme does just that. We may or may not have had the benefit of a mentor, but sure have a chance of making that difference.

The Dream Mentoring program is now in its third year and has impacted about 80 young adults and 80 volunteers. This year, the response has been prolific and 50 pairs have been added to the program. This program is exclusively designed for Dream A Dream by Clinical Psychologists Dr. Fiona and Dave Pearson from the UK.

A glimpse of the Dream Mentoring Program just to help one answer the question about how one individual can make a lasting impression on someone else’s life.

Aiding skills, enhancing childhood and indirectly impacting the parent organization

Christine is one mentor who is excited about helping her mentee improve her English, become exposed to living in the wider society and savour the flavour of being young. On her mentee, Saraswati’s birthday, she decided to take her to Crossword. Christine gave her mentee the responsibility of managing the money for the day. Saraswati on her part was careful and did a very good job of it. Christine gifted her Pinocchio, giving her the wings of imagination. Without Christine’s mentorship, even a simple thing like going to Crossword would have eluded Saraswati. The centre where Saraswati lives usually does not prefer sending the children out of their premises, worrying that they will run away or get into trouble. But as the mentor-mentee relationship progresses outside the centre, the authorities have begun to see that the children (at least those in the program) are becoming more responsible and that providing exposure with g uidance can aid rather than corrupt these impressionable minds.

Giving life the correct direction and making a timely impact

Kishore is a young lad, an adolescent with a burst of energy. The ways he used to express himself invariably involved disturbing others, beating up people or teasing them. Punishments which involve being deprived of food were norm for him till Ramesh, his mentor, entered his life. Over the first few meetings itself Ramesh exposed Kishore to good books like “Finding Yourself in Difficult Times” and a talk about the important things in life seem to have calmed Kishore down. Reports of Kishore’s improvement from the parent organization have invigorated this relationship further. The boy who wanted to become a rowdy to beat up people to teach them a lesson, now wants to become a policeman!

Providing a reality check and a push in the right course of action

Kalavathi didn’t do as well as she had expected in her SSLC and still she wanted to take up BCom. Her neighbours and parents thought it might be good for her to start work; they lied about her age and enrolled her for an insurance training programme. Enter Sunita – she was instrumental in making Kalavathi realise that not only was it wrong to have lied about her age for the training, but also it wasn’t really her choice, going to work. Kalavathi wants to go to collge. Sunita helped her realise that a pass class may not get her into the posh college or procure her a commerce seat that she had been aspiring for. She advised her to apply to more than one college to avoid being left without a seat anywhere. Sunita also told Kalavathi that a caste certificate would get her a discount in a government college. She also provided the necessary support to procure the document. Would Kalavathi have been able to go through all this wit hout someone to help her negotiate the complex structures institutions like college and corporations?

Sonali’s mentee Shruthi expressed a desire to learn English in the formal environment of a Spoken English class. Sonali helped her visit different Spoken English classes and choose the one which would best suit her needs. Even though they found one institute that was cheaper than others and also one that seemed decent enough to meet Shruthi’s needs, the mentor made the young girl realise that Rs. 1600 a month might be a bit steep for her family. Sonali then extended a helping hand by saying she would find her a corporate sponsor, but Shruthi would have to prove that she was committed and would do justice to the course. Shruthi has asked for time to make up her mind. This young girl has learned to seek help, but also realise her responsibility towards those who help her.

Besides these, there’s always the fun times like grabbing a yummy dosa or slurping roadside chai or simply walking down the park talking of nothing in particular. Mentoring is not all fun, and not all boring either. Each relationship is unique, but equally gratifying.

To know more you can contact Anju Lavina at anju.l.dream@gmail.com

Ekta Hattangady

EKTA IS A FORMER EMPLOYEE OF DREAM A DREAM, AN ARDENT SUPPORTER, AND A MENTOR AT THE DREAM MENTORING PROGRAM. EKTA HAS BEEN A CONSTANT SOURCE OF SUPPORT, GUIDANCE AND INSPIRATION TO THE ORGANIZATION. SHE HAS COMPLETED HER MASTERS IN SOCIAL WORK FROM TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES (TISS) AND CURRENTLY WORKS AT EDUCATION INITIATIVES, AHMEDABAD.