For Vuisile and Wendy, education and motivation are the drivers of change for their mentees in the Free State. When they joined the 18+ Be the Mentor initiative started by the SAB, their intention was to help young adults make positive life choices in the hope of steering them away from toxic situations and alcohol. Here are their stories and how they are creating safe, positive and inspiring environments for the youth of the Free State through education.
Vuisile says he joined the programme in the hope of making a difference in his community. “I want to motivate members in my community to become better people and more importantly for the youth to focus on their education instead of abusing alcohol”, he said.
For Vuisile, mentorship is about giving his mentee guidance, support and helping to solve problems he may face. Growing up he never had a mentor, and this motivated him to join the SAB 18+ programme.
Being a mentor has taught Vuisile to be more responsible. He says he met his mentee while walking home. “We live in the same neighbourhood and I met him on the street while passing by. He was smoking and I stopped to chat to him,” said Vuisile. “I have since advised him to stop abusing alcohol, to stop smoking and to focus more on his education and school work.” But while Vuisile has been a mentor, his mentee has also taught him to be a better role model.
Like any other neighbourhood, Vuisile’s one faces the same issues of poverty and substance abuse. “At times there is no guidance from parents, there is a high rate of school drop outs and children are being raised by single parents.”
Vuisile hopes that after this programme his mentee will succeed at any challenges he may face in life and that one day the mentee, too, will give back to their community.
WHAT’S WENDY UP TO?
Throughout her school career, Wendy was involved in educational programs such as the “Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Programme”. This inspired her to join the SAB 18+ campaign as it focused on the issue at a “broader spectrum”.
“My community is faced with the challenge of underage drinking among teenagers and I enjoy playing a part in creating a change in Jacobsdal,” she said.
Wendy takes mentoring seriously as she believes it means “to guide and practice what one preaches”, and to also use one’s time wisely by “mentoring the next individual”. She explains her biggest role model is her late mother who played a significant role in her life, with constant support and guidance throughout her childhood.
At school, Wendy became a youth facilitator. “Through this role, I saw how learners were improving in their academic fields. By being a mentor, Wendy has seen how she can make more responsible decisions by dedicating her life to help others.
Through her community, Wendy met one of her mentees who was struggling, but with her help, support and guidance was able to help him turn his life around and start playing soccer again.
Abusing alcohol, dropping out of school, having a single parent and suffering peer pressure are only a few of the issues children from this community face on a regular basis. In addition, these kids are still faced with the usual pressures that many other kids face example: having cell phones, the latest brand of clothing and footwear, as well as taking lunch to school. Sadly, not all parents are able to afford this.
Wendy grew up with a hard-working mother who was often away from home. This frequently led to her sneaking out and going to clubs. “My dream is to see my mentees become successful and not get side-tracked in life.” Wendy keeps her mentees busy with fun and interesting activities as she believes underage drinking is a negative influence.
BE A PART OF THE CHANGE
SAB believes everyone can be part of the change. The 18+ Be the Mentor initiative is about starting a movement which calls on everyone over the age of 18 in South Africa to take that first step and become a mentor – ‘Be Part of the Change’. South Africans can be part of the campaign and make a difference to someone else’s life by pledging to be a mentor at www.bethementor.sab.co.za.