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Raising South Africa’s Giants

By Wendy Mothata, September 2017

An African proverb says it takes a community to raise a child, which means it’s everyone’s responsibility to take an active role in contributing to the nurturing of the child

We are living in a face-paced, instant information and pressure filled world. Today’s children are faced with countless challenges and opportunities, which makes partnerships with the whole community essential in rearing our children for tomorrow.

All mentors would attest that raising a child is a communal effort. Furthermore, some communities are more fortunate with a true village approach from mentors who are committed to nurturing the country’s future leaders.

One such mentor, Ntsundeni Ndou, Vice Chairperson and head of mentorship division in Bono Foundation, said that the foundation has adopted eight schools in Limpopo, mostly in Venda. The mentors of the foundation conduct winter schools in at least five of these schools, where all students gather.

“We specifically work with students from rural schools. In those schools, we mentor all top, middle and bottom students,” said the mentor.

Not only is the foundation focusing on Venda schools, but also adopted five learners from Free State province.

Ndou said that he was fortunate enough to have a mentor during his childhood days. “Associating with the right people is important, my mentor influenced me to develop holistically.”

He admits that mentors are a source of inspiration. “If a mentor is doing well in life, the mentee would naturally be inspired with the mentors experience and knowledge, and would be useful in the decision-making process of mentees,” said Ndou.

Ndou pointed out that some of the learners have low self-esteem. However, “the Bono Foundation helps mentees to realise their worth, to be aware of their strengths. We also have in our guideline, a session that deals with confidence. We ask them to do introspection and find out what they are good at.”

On the other hand, Kgomotso Khosa, founder of Raising Giants Organisation, is on a mission to better different talents and skills, and find ways to nurture and seek for opportunities to develop those talents. The mentees at Raising Giants meet once a month to tackle different topics with their mentors.

Khosa is of the belief that raising giants within the community requires unity from parents and citizens. “It means working to build trust, set goals and keep the mentoring relationship on track,” she said.

Both foundations also provide useful career and development information to expose mentees to different fields they can pursue.

Both mentors agree that the foundations are there to help young people to become productive citizens with the ability to transform themselves and the communities where they live. “The programs exist to move all youth in the community with whatever challenges they are facing, towards healthy, successful lives by providing support, love and opportunities for self-mastery,” said Khosa.

One of the mentees at Raising Giants, Winnie Musevenzi said that being a mentee has taught her so much about dedication and making the right choices. “Before joining the program I had no confidence and could not even speak up in class,” said Musevenzi.

She admits that before encountering the program she had no direction “I personally did not have direction about my life”

Musevensi said she is on a path of becoming a motivational speaker and an entrepreneur.

University of Venda student and also a mentee at Bono foundation, Ravhuhali Thilivhali said she looked for a mentor for a very long time and finally found one.

One of the challenges that Thilivhali still faces is making decisions “I sometimes have doubts if the career path I have chosen will take me to where I want to be, but my mentors have been very helpful”.

Thilivhuli is currently studying Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning and wants to become a GIS Analyst

Both mentees like the fact that sessions with mentors are more like a journey of discovery.

Ndou concluded by saying, “we want young people to realise their dreams. We are addressing the core issues that act as barriers between dreamers and achievers. If more young people can achieve their dreams, we surely will have better communities. Poverty alleviation is the main underlying cancer that we want to heal.”

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